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The Art of Doing Nothing
by James Snyder
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An incident occurred this past week between the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly. I was sitting in my favorite chair enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee when my wife came around the corner and stared at me with both hands firmly placed on her hips. This is usually a sign that someone is in trouble. And since there were only two people in the room at the time, my bet was on me. A husband has a sixth sense of all of these things.

She then asked me to do something and I told her that I was already engaged.

"Doing what?" she pressed.

"Nothing," I responded.

"Say what?"

"I am doing nothing."

"I can see that, but I want you to do something for me."

"I would like to do something for you but at the present time I'm doing nothing for me."

Wives always want their husbands to do something while husbands want to do nothing. More times than not, I'm ashamed to say, the wife in this household wins. I am always doing her "something," while my "nothing" goes undone.

As a veteran husband, with the scars to prove it, I have concluded there are only two categories of trouble plaguing husbands. A husband may get into a lot of trouble throughout his marital career, but it all can be boiled down into these two categories.

Everything a husband does can be found under these two categories; not doing anything, and doing nothing. Any trouble I get into can be put under one or the other.

Now this may seem to the layperson that these two categories are the same. However, to an experienced eye they are two very different things.

Doing nothing is all right if it is your choice. However, if someone asks you to do something and you choose to do nothing, it can be a recipe for trouble with you know who.

Very few people have really mastered the art of doing nothing for the simple reason somebody is always asking them to do something. Throughout the years, I have made a concerted study on this highly underrated art form. I call it an art form because it takes a great deal of practice and persistence to perfect it. Very few people ever arrive at the level of perfection.

Doing nothing can be a full-time job if you really know what you are doing. Moreover, if your goal is perfection it takes an awful lot of time.

This has been a great conflict for me because there are three great enemies to the art and craft of doing nothing. Those three enemies are "everything," "something" and "anything." These three enemies can keep a person from doing "nothing."

Believe me, a lot of work and planning goes into this part of doing a thing. It does not just happen overnight. And it does not happen on its own. I know what they say, "practice makes perfect." But I think in this area of doing nothing, practice may not make it perfect, but it can make it a lot easier. And who doesn't want that?

I have observed over the years some people do not do anything when they could more profitably be doing nothing. That is just my observation.

Not everyone can do nothing. Some people have to do something all the time... anything. They have some sort of compulsion about this, which hinders them in the art of doing nothing. It takes a very disciplined person to achieve the point of absolute nothing. Because every once in awhile everybody has the temptation to do something when they should be doing nothing.

My philosophy of life is simply, nothing is something if it does not interfere with anything. And believe me there is a lot of interference in this world. Doing nothing can be confusing unless you get all your things in order.

Forbid me from boasting too much, but I have achieved a level in the art of doing nothing that is far above the average person. In order to pass on some of my expertise in this area let me outline for you how I prepare and practice the art of doing nothing.

First, I clear my mind of everything. Because of years of practice, I have become quite adept in this area. I can clear my mind of everything in just a moment leaving plenty of room for nothing.

Second, I curb every urge I might have to do something. If you have something to do, it always interferes with your doing nothing. This is the hardest one I have found because they are too many people wanting me to do something. Well, actually only one person, but that person shall remain nameless to protect my backside.

Third, I do not allow anything to interfere with my doing nothing. This takes years of practice before you can do it with any level of expertise. If you have anything to do, the temptation is always to do that instead of practicing the art of doing nothing.

In this area of doing nothing, there is one place where it really pays off.

The Bible plainly says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).

Jesus paid for our salvation and there is nothing more we can do... except believe it.

Read more articles by James Snyder or search for other articles by topic below.

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