On Sunday we celebrated the end of Sukkot, and in the secular world we celebrated the end of the High Holiday season. One month. Very few workdays. Mostly holidays. In Israel, most of the holidays, like a weekend, are days where most businesses are closed and there is no public transportation. Most people do not work on such days. For some, this means family gatherings. For others, this means travel. And for others yet, it means being stuck at home, utterly restless and confused.
I usually experience all of the above. In the last few years, being a freelance writer, I did two things during High Holiday season: I worked and I retreated. That was my expression of freedom and individuality. I would be free while everyone was working, and I would work while everyone was busy being confused and going to dreaded family gatherings. Thus I lived in my own bubble of harmony.
But eventually it became apparent that my bubble of harmony was, at least in part, an illusion. I began feeling very restless. I began asking myself, if living in a bubble of harmony is an ideal or a reality. Was I retreating at home or was I stuck at home?
This year, after such an intensive summer, I did not work during the holidays. I went on vacation, I spent time in nature, I spent time with family and friends, and I also spent some time at home, feeling restless and utterly confused. Why? I just knew I had to.
By the time Sukkot came around — last in line — I remembered something. I remembered what it’s like to sit on my balcony with a mug of tea, gaze at the treetops, feel my body on this Earth, and to truly, deeply enjoy just being alive. I remembered, that it’s OK to simply enjoy doing nothing. In fact, it’s vital.
Lots of modern gurus like Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh will tell you that — you sure don’t need me to tell you. And they’ll even tell you how to do it.
When I first found out about the simple joy of doing nothing (or one of the other dozens of names you want to call it — meditation, harmony or anything else), I wanted to find out how I could feel that way all the time. After all, it is so effortless and enjoyable. Why shouldn’t I? At times it can become an obsession. Of course, I have much to reconcile because my life just can’t be that effortlessly joyful all the time — maybe not even most of the time (nor can a meditation practice).
So when it came around again, this pleasant, effortless feeling, I was already mourning it. I was almost angry at it. What are you even good for? I thought. You just come and give me simple joy only to abandon and disappoint me. And then you make things complicated again!
But something deeper inside me knows that this simple joy is in fact not so deceptive. Maybe it comes and goes as needed— it has its reasons I suppose — and all I have to do is let it come and let it go. And maybe the scariest of all — is to trust all the complications life brings, too. Only then, can the simple joy of doing nothing be a sustainable one.