Last weekend my family did nothing. No festivals, no kids’ sports, no playdates, no birthday parties, no get-togethers with friends or extended family.
It was awesome.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my city, my extended family, and my friends more than anything, but there is something glorious about a weekend filled with nothing to do, with open days stretching before us like blank canvas.
Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert at heart, but I’ve always valued unstructured time. Yes, I can multi-task with the best of them. I remember one particular Saturday this past summer in which I spun from coaching t-ball to cleaning out a client’s garage to dressing up for a fancy fundraiser event in Superman-to-Clark-Kent like fashion. I’ll admit, there is a certain thrill I get from rushing around, completing multiple tasks at once. Kind of a “Look at me! Look at me do it all!” feeling.
But I never really feel grounded when I work like that. And I definitely don’t feel joyful. I feel more like a machine, calculating my progress, scratching tally marks in my own personal “I’m Awesome” column. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but multi-tasking feeds my ego. Yes, it’s also sometimes necessary, but it’s not how I want to live on a daily basis.
I want calm. I want connection with the people who matter to me most. And I want to value my most precious resource, the one that never multiplies, no matter how many tasks I do at once: time.
The only way for me to do that is to find the joy of missing out.
I sometimes wonder, when my future self looks back at this time of my life, what will I remember fondly? The Saturdays spent ferrying kids to sports and birthday parties? Or those precious moments where we said “No” to the world, shut our front door, and enclosed our family on the couch, kids on laps, books read aloud, coffee percolating in the kitchen? I think I know the answer.
So I am challenging myself: miss out. When I can, say “No” to multi-tasking and “Yes” to the joys of unstructured time. This is not as easy as it sounds. I often feel like “rush” is my default mechanism. It’s unnatural for me to slow down. To deliberately put my kids in just one sport or activity at a time. To toss the various pamphlets for after-school activities in the recycling. To respond “No” to Facebook invites.
As a culture, we have a general fear of missing out. It even has its own acronym: FOMO. I’m sure this is not unique to our time and place. I imagine even our caveman ancestors felt some FOMO when they discovered that the dudes in the next cave had invented the wheel. “What the heck, man? Where did you get that rolly thing? How did I miss this? I’m still slugging all my clubs and spears around on my back! I’m such a failure!”
I can relate. Like most of us, I do my fair share of keeping up with the Joneses and often find myself hurrying for no reason: speeding to the grocery store or to my next client, taking a shower as if an Olympic gold medal for speed-bathing is on the line, repeatedly nagging my kids to “Come on! Hurry up! Let’s go!”
Why? Are we destined to always seek more, to want to do the next thing, to worry that what we are doing right now is not enough, that somewhere someone else is doing more, and that we should be doing that, and if we aren’t, then something is wrong with us?
Perhaps. But I have proof that it’s not true.
Because I spent a weekend doing nothing. And it was one of the best weekends of my life.
We watched movies, ate popcorn, stayed in pajamas until 4pm, played Mario Kart, went grocery shopping, ate dinner, laughed, connected, made memories.
I’m sure we missed out on a lot of things that were happening around us. And you know what? I’m glad.