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Pieter Symonsz Potter: Vanitas Still Life (1646)

"Nuthin' might serve as a perfectly satisfactory purpose …"

Of all that anyone might Successfully achieve, Nuthin' ranks near the top of the Most Difficult List. The difficulty seems to be the doing. Nuthin' requires nothing, and plenty of it, generously spread over time, and something about time naturally repels Nuthin' like oil on water. A few minutes into the effort, the monkey mind takes over and starts casting thoughts out into the ether, where they try to take root. Even that simple, nearly non-action amounts to something, the opposite of the intended Nuthin’. Even if the monkey mind doesn't derail the initiative, boredom might doom the effort by driving the incumbent into something, however well-intended the effort at accomplishing Nuthin'. It's hard work, perhaps the hardest.

The Muse continues healing from her throat cancer, the primary treatment for which she finished three months ago.
It's slow progress since, though, with radiation-cooked flesh still tender and healing, healing being less reassuring than was the actual treatment, it being itchy and wearying. Her voice gives out without her finishing her stories, and she grows much more tired and faster than ever. Yet, she struggles to settle down to accomplish Nuthin' for a change, apparently because Nuthin’s just so naturally damned difficult to Successfully accomplish. She continues scheduling meetings and meeting deadlines, though she's worn out before she's finished. Not even supper revives her these evenings.

I feel an urgency with Springtime coming. Something about the angle of the light informs my eye, though the temperatures seem little different. I've tried this waning winter to accomplish Nuthin' in particular, hibernating through the short days and endless nights. Hibernating, I'm learning, isn't Nuthin'. It requires a certain dedication and self-discipline, but not nearly as much as Nuthin' demands. I keep hoping that The Muse might find the switch to shut herself down for a spell to encourage the healing, which will continue regardless. When healing competes with everything else, I worry that the healing goes wanting. I imagine that if The Muse could only accomplish Nuthin', her recovery might finish sooner. I might be dreaming that result.

I'm growing to believe in the beneficence of accomplishing Nuthin'. I've been driven throughout my life, always focusing upon some upcoming something, always striving. I've Successfully accomplished much less arriving than I have striving, for I've sidestepped arriving lest I lose my purpose. I'm learning that Nuthin' might serve as a perfectly satisfactory purpose and that I need not necessarily be headed anywhere to feel Successful. It's difficult even to imagine accomplishing Nuthin', what with monkey mind, boredom, and ten thousand other competing motivations. Still, I feel that I might be closing in on this Success, in moderation, of course. I see no benefit in becoming an idle bum, just sometimes permitting myself an odd hour or even a day now and then, time expressly set aside to Succeed at Nuthin'. How refreshing!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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