Now Or Never·Blog

In defence of doing nothing

As Now or Never celebrates people learning new things during forced isolation, host Ify Chiwetelu reminds us that if all you did was wake up today, that's OK. Sometimes stillness is exactly what you need.

My pandemic to-do list keeps shrinking, and that's OK

"Just because it doesn’t look active, doesn’t mean it’s not productive." says Ify Chiwetelu (Ify Chiwetelu/CBC)

This week on Now or Never we are celebrating people who are using this moment in time, mid-global pandemic, to challenge themselves to learn something new.

To all of you who are feeling especially productive and creative in your isolation I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, good for you...and please keep it down some of us are trying to nap.

My pandemic to-do list keeps shrinking. It started optimistically with goals of completing online courses, training for a 10K race, showering every day.

Today, over a month into isolation and physical distancing, I ate every meal over the sink. And by "meal" I mean fist fulls of dry cereal. There is a Cheerio clinging to my pyjamas as I write this and I ran out of Cheerios last week.

If all you did today was wake up, I salute you.- Ify Chiwetelu

I used to aspire to always be productive, moving from one ambitious goal to the next, but with each extended period of forced stillness in my life, (unemployment, illness, depressive episodes, and now a global pandemic) I relearn the same lesson: It is okay to do nothing.

As someone who was raised to measure success in hours worked and obligations fulfilled, being still without guilt doesn't come easy. But what is even harder is adding the disappointment of your own unmet expectations on top of feelings of sadness, fear, and loss.

It is wasted emotion.

We are all just trying to make it through. While for some that looks like mastering a new language while your sourdough starter...starts? (I refuse to learn what that actually is), I would like to take a moment to celebrate the unproductive.

Host Ify Chiwetelu is learning to slow down during this time of forced isolation. (Ify Chiwetelu/CBC)

If all you did today was wake up, I salute you. Ignored all calls because conversation feels too exhausting? Standing ovation! Picked up a book only to use it as a dinner plate? Genius! 

Just because it doesn't look active, doesn't mean it's not productive.

I am learning what rest can look like. I am learning how grief weighs on the body. I am learning what I need when everything goes quiet, and I'm learning that being still is okay.

There will be time enough for ambition and checklists next week, next month, or during the next global crisis.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Netflix is asking if I'm still watching. The answer is always yes.