The myriad things are born from Something.
And Something is born from Nothing.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized that it’s been a year since I quit the public relations industry and took the plunge into the process of self re-discovery and growth that inspired the creation of this blog.
So through a series of posts, I’ll recap what I’ve achieved since then, and where I’m going from here.
This year I learned the importance of stepping back, pausing, and “doing nothing” for a while.
Of course, it’s impossible to literally “do nothing”.
What I mean is that this year I have not executed any deliberate, purposeful action towards achieving any important goal.
Well, OK, I have done some of that. But very, very little.
One of the things I did was to start practicing Tai Chi Chuan and Taoist philosophy more seriously. But as Laozi’s quote at the beginning of this post indicates, Taoism is all about the paradoxical virtues of non-doing as a creative force.
So, what do you do?
Whenever I’ve been introduced to people lately, my answer to the proverbial “So, what do you do?” has been a clear, straightforward and resounding “Nothing.”
After explaining myself a bit better about this Year of Nothing, people usually understand that I needed to take a break, recharge my batteries, and reflect upon what I wanted to do next.
At this point, they usually acknowledge that it takes time to discover what makes us tick, and that trying too hard might defeat the purpose. That true self-discovery arises much in the same way as genuine intellectual or artistic discovery: through spontaneous “aha!” moments.
But they’re usually still skeptical on the practicality of taking a whole year in order to do that.
And a key reason behind their skepticism, is the belief that they “just can’t afford” a Year of Nothing.
And yet, I have spent close to nothing for a Year of Nothing.
One of the key lessons of this Year of Nothing has been that when it comes to consumption, the best policy is to keep it as close as possible to nothing. And that this is easier to do than what I used to think.
I certainly haven’t bought almost any stuff at all. That I can remember, only a pair of shoes, a piece of luggage, and a Kindle.
Actually, I got rid of most of the very few material possessions I still carried with me. The Kindle substituted for all my books, which I donated together with half of my clothes.
Nowadays, all my stuff fits in one piece of luggage.
Getting rid of stuff has been an incredibly energizing and liberating exercise that I started a couple of years before this Year of Nothing. But I won’t elaborate on this topic because the always inspiring Colleen Wainwright (AKA Communicatrix) wrote a brilliant series of posts about her de-cluttering experience that do just that.
Traveling on Nothing, and my biggest Something
During this Year of Nothing, I learned to travel on almost nothing.
I am truly lucky of having many wonderful friends spread all over the globe. And whenever I asked them for advice on accommodation in their cities, they have invariably invited me to stay at their homes.
So with a little help from my friends, I spent this Year of Nothing in New York, Buenos Aires, Caracas, London, Barcelona, Madrid, San Francisco and Los Angeles, spending close to nothing in accommodation.
But most importantly, having been able to spend so much time with friends and being in the state of calm mindfulness that comes so naturally from doing Nothing, has boosted my gratitude for friendship to levels I had never experienced. Sometimes to a crazy level of euphoria that makes me cry out of happiness.
This deeper connection with friends has pushed further down the value of consumption in my scale of values. I know now for sure that I really don’t need to buy any stuff to be happy. I need Nothing. Zero. Nada. As long as I have truly good friends, I will always have a reason for being happy.
This realization was for me the first, and biggest Something born from this Year of Nothing.
This is the first post of the “Year of Nothing” series. For the second post of the series, click here.