A Productive Nothing

Sometimes doing nothing is the best course of action.

You know that gap of noise, that silence, between the final note of an orchestra and the applause? That's a crucial moment. SO much happens in that space.  The vibrations from that final note ring out with resolve and finality. The audience is able to receive the gift of song that has been played. The musicians can feel the accomplishment of their work, even before the accolades. Here I am, trying to put words to that silence, when it is that silence itself that moves and transforms us, whether performer or listener. The silence is what guides us into the next moment.

If you've listened to or played in any orchestras, you know that many pieces have multiple movements, and that the cardinal sin of audience members is to clap between movements. No, we clap when the piece is finished. Why is this a sin? Because it is an intrusion upon silence. Before the music is truly over, it would be a disservice to all parties to interrupt it. And the moment for applause will come, for sure, but not yet.

I've learned that this same principle plays out in many other arenas as well.

Sometimes the conversation doesn't need more words, it needs a pregnant pause.

Sometimes the work day doesn't need more emails, more phone calls and more "production," it needs a meaningful and restorative break.

Sometimes we don't need more activities, we need more time to process. 

Sometimes we don't need to schedule another board meeting or create another action plan, we need to wait and pray. 

As tempting as it can be to jump into action(s), there are times when what is most beneficial, most necessary is to


Do nothing.


It's hard to quantify, and it's hard to sit still. Truly still. No-cell-phone-in-hand-still.

Just because it isn't easy, or easily quantified, doesn't make it unimportant.

Today, make time for a productive nothing. Reap the unquantifiable rewards of being seated in wonder, in quiet mystery, in silence. Bask in the discomfort of your own mind. Breathe.

Maybe the next step will become clear. Maybe hope will be renewed for a challenging situation. Maybe what you were spinning your wheels about will float away, or maybe you'll gain traction.

May you be, and be productive in nothingness. 


Benjamin FaderComment