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Much ado about nothing


I could just as easily have titled this column something like “The best laid plans,” or “When life hands you lemons,” but having written In My Humble Opinion (IMHO) for more than two decades. (Yes, I had a life before my tenure [sic] at The River Reporter.) I’m more than sure that I’ve used both titles in the past. In fact, I’ve probably used this one as well, but I’m not gonna check. My point is that it’s been a work-free week, and the best word to describe what I’ve done with it, is “nothing.”

Some people call it “vacation,” and that’s what I said last Wednesday to inform my co-workers that I would be “unavailable for a few days,” which seemed to have no effect whatsoever on anyone in the office. Zero response. Nothing.

I did have a plan, but it wasn’t grandiose by any stretch of the imagination. The farthest I had considered traveling was actually to my hometown of Binghamton, NY for lunch with Aunt Marcia. But after the undercarriage of my vehicle cracked in half and fell off the car somewhere between Santana and Fogerty (while covering the antics surrounding you-know-what), well, suffice it to say that the Dharma-Mobile is still in the shop, and that any extraneous funds that I might have put aside for “lunch” were suddenly needed elsewhere.

“When life hands you lemons…” my mother would say, wagging a perfectly manicured index finger in my face. So I reevaluated, eventually concluding that I would just stick around the house and attack some of those pesky chores that I’ve been avoiding all summer long. “I know, I’ll clean out the garage!” I enthused to the dog, who didn’t even look up from gnawing on her pig’s ear. Nothing.

“And I’ll finally have time to paint the bathroom!” I exclaimed, having gone off the rails on that project months ago. “And I’ll make a campfire everyday,” I prattled on, “and I’ll spray-paint that picture frame, and finish grouting the backsplash, and then…“ I said, trailing off and sighing, “Hmmm, that’s starting to sound like a lot of work.”

“The best laid plans...” I heard my mother whisper in my ear, another ghostly finger tap, tap, tapping on my shoulder. “Just go with the flow...” she’d say, in her never-ending attempt to sound “hip” and “with it.” I slumped into an easy chair, less enthused than mere moments before and started a list. Words like “do the laundry” and “straighten up your desk” taunted me, but made more sense than less realistic ambitions like “write a one-act play” and “re-tile the kitchen floor.”

“Doing absolutely nothing is beginning to look more and more attractive,” I said to the dog, who had fallen asleep from lack of interest. “Bored to tears...” my mother would say, wagging a finger at Dharma. “Even your dog is bored. Have breakfast for dinner,” she’d say. “That’s always fun!” In fact, I slept for the first day and a half, and then decided that straightening up my desk would involve sitting at my desk, and that was the one thing I was seeking to avoid. Choosing instead to switch it up and eschew talking on the phone, watching TV, or scrolling through social media, I also put the camera down for a few days and (gasp) photographed nothing.

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a single day in your life,” mom would say and, of course, the old axiom is true. Still, there are days when taking pictures (even here in our beautiful corner of the world) feels like work, and I did not feel like working. No photos of the campfire, no artsy/fartsy bumblebee-on-a-flower images cropping up on my Facebook page. I neither saw nor photographed any tie-dyed doves. No selfies with my dog at the dump. Nothing.

Now that doing nothing is over, I don’t feel much different. The grouting remains undone, and it’s unlikely that the bathroom will ever get painted. I did wash, dry and fold several loads of laundry, and watched more than one movie, but that doesn’t seem like much of a vacation goal. I even took my mother’s advice and had breakfast for dinner and, you know what? I don’t have any pictures to prove it, but it was kinda fun.


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