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  • October 30, 2014

Nothing Doing - Ladue News: Tangential Thinker

Nothing Doing

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:00 pm

So I was having dinner with some friends the other night, and something occurred to me: It doesn’t matter if you have children or a job or dishes in the sink or a dentist appointment to schedule or an oil change looming, we always seem to have too much to do. Well, hold on a second. We have too much to do unless we don’t have enough to do. You know those days when you pawn off the kids, cancel coffee, let the laundry pile up...of course, the one thing I always remember to do after a day like that is kick myself about it. Sure, I watched the entire last season of Scandal, but there’s no food in the house. I never seem to have just the exact right amount to do. When unsolicited advice is offered about my perceived angst over this, it invariably falls into two categories:

1) You’re doing too much, or

2) You’re not doing enough

Life is all about doing. That’s why to-do lists were invented. Even doing nothing is doing something. You can tell by the way people say it: Today, I did absolutely nothing. Doing nothing is such a desirable feat, it’s even possible to do too much doing nothing. That’s when you overdo it. If you eat too much, drink too much or watch too much TV, you really overdid it. Boy I really overdid it last nightWhat did you do? Nothing.

What is ‘doing’ when you really think about it? We’re always doing something, after all. There’s always a verb to describe it. I’m sitting. I’m spacing out. I’m trying to look busy. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it’s still doing. Something still gets done. You can even be doing something when you think you’re doing something else. That’s when someone will walk in on you and say, What the hell do you think you’re doing? That will make you stop and think. Clearly, an observing party does not think you are doing what you think you are doing. I think I’m going through your cell phone and checking your texts. Is that not what it looks like I’m doing? People may disagree on what is being done, but something is being done; maybe more than you think.

People can do good things; if they do enough good, they’re called do-gooders. I don’t know how much good you have to do to qualify as a do-gooder; I only know I do not make the cut. You can also do bad things. Here’s where it gets dicey. If you do a lot of bad, you are not a do-badder (for obvious reasons). You are—wait for it—an evil-doer. You can almost hear the three notes of doom coming from the orchestra: dah dah dah. An evil-doer is someone who takes wrong-doing to another level. Evil-doer status is reserved for arms dealers, drug lords and genocidal dictators, and there is no upside. No mass-murderer ever got his sentence mitigated by throwing himself on the mercy of the court and saying, At least I was doing something.

So I may not be making or building or creating or fabricating or fashioning, but I’m doing. Some people save lives in the emergency room, some feed the homeless, and I may or may not have fallen asleep during a manicure--still, we’re all out there doing. The playing field is level. I guess that’s not entirely fair. Can I toast my friend for finishing a triathlon and go to bed with the same sense of accomplishment, you know, for the toast? Technically we both did something; but in the grand scheme of things, putting us in the same category, doers, may not be entirely fair. We can’t all be the same simply because we did. Could there be degrees of doing? I guess it’s possible. Somebody should really do something about that.

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