Recently, Arthus treated us to the importance of nothing. He wrote:
My favorite thing of all is to do nothing at all. I do nothing all the time: I walk nowhere, I think about nothing, I work on nothing.
Doing nothing is the same as doing anything that strikes your fancy, or not. Doing nothing is getting a crazy idea, then forgetting it.
I compare Arthus’s “doing nothing” with the time that I spend thinking and tinkering. Such time is of critical importance to any creative individual; it is when we find new directions for our ideas and explore the breadth of the intellectual realm. The world would be a very boring place if we never allowed ourselves to wander in new directions.
However, one must wander somewhere. I believe that our lives are nothing more than the sum of the actions that we take. If we only wander through the intellectual void that is doing nothing, nothing is all we will be. Life isn’t about meandering through our thoughts, it is about grabbing a thought by the horns and running with it.
I believe that a fully lived life is without boredom. You should always be doing something: pursuing some new idea, trying or learning something new, working towards some end, building something, never losing momentum.
Every experience we have provides us with new information that we use to make sense of the world around us, expanding our schemata. This understanding of the world, the one that comes from experience, is what separates the knowledgeable from the wise.
Our thoughts are nothing without the actions that make the best of them. Arthus may have started his blog while doing nothing, but he had to do something to make it a success. We must move from thinking to doing. Only nothing has been accomplished by thoughts alone.
So, with all due respect to Arthus’s philosophy of doing nothing, I would challenge you instead to do everything that you can, to live your life fully and never let a moment go to waste. Never be bored, never wonder what to do, just do something. Go write a book, learn how to paint, act in a play, install Linux, write a blog, start a company, study religious texts, learn a new language, volunteer with a new group, connect with an old friend.
If you are not exhausted, you should be asking yourself: what else can I be doing?
It should be the same in our schools: are we giving students the opportunity to do everything in life that they can?