A Case For Doing Nothing

book bed

Throughout my long life, in addition to committing myself to a great many things – commitments seem easy in the moment of “yes” and compelling in their promise of fulfillment – my monkey-brain has also always leaped across the branches of projects.

The thing I am the least accomplished at is giving myself over to the impulse of doing nothing.

A pile of books just off to the side of my bed and crowned by a copy of Raymond Carver’s collected poems, I am inspired this evening and tempted by the path of one of his lyrical pieces.

It’s been particularly dry and spring-like the last week – so much so that I’ve found myself  – in addition to working on the curation of an art show and arguing with my back –  clearing brush from the around the creek, planting evergreens, and helping a friend move some stones to a pathway. But this evening as I read one of Carver’s poems, I wished – for a moment – for the sound of a good rain – a rain that would give me a chance to do nothing  – for at least part of  a day.


by Raymond Carver

Woke up this morning with a terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read. Fought against it for a minute.

Then looked out the window at the rain. And gave over. Put myself entirely  in the keep of this rainy morning.

Would I live my life over again? Make the same unforgivable mistakes?

Yes, given half a chance. Yes.

“Rain” by Raymond Carver, from The Collected Poems. © Knopf, 1996

Fred Swan

Fredrick Swan is an artist and an author whose career has encompassed years of working as a child and family counselor, an individual therapist and serving as a field instructor at a graduate school of social work. Aware that he is one of the few people on earth who has lived to explore the meaning of their own death in the context of their life, he is currently writing a blog to inspire others to reimagine their lives. His artwork has been shown in the Northwest for a number of years, has appeared in two seasons of a television series, a movie and is in collections of people living in the United States and Europe. Fredrick writes and paints beside a creek just outside the diverse river port city of Portland, Oregon. The father of four, his art work and blog can be found at www.fredrickswan.com. “Parentheses – A Memoir of My Life Before, During, and After My Death” is available on Amazon where you can read a preview of the book and its reviews.