Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Nothing to do


Remember when you were a kid how you’d hound your mom (or dad) during summer vacations about having nothing to do? And no matter what was suggested it wasn’t what you wanted. Even though you couldn’t exactly say just what that was.

Retirement can be sort of like that. Or not.

Checking out the buffet.

Checking out the buffet.

Katie and I have been camping in the back yard the last couple of nights. This morning, with a thunderstorm in the forecast, I went out to pack the tent up. I was feeling privileged that it was 7:30 on a Monday morning and I wasn’t sitting in commuter traffic on the freeway. The neighborhood was quiet, sun shining softly on the leaves, only the sounds of the birds to interrupt my wandering thoughts.

Got any jelly there lady?

Got any jelly there lady?

A chipmunk and a fat squirrel skittered away from me as I startled them mid-breakfast. A rose breasted grosbeak flew off the feeder, an oriole streaked away toward the woods.

I smiled.

I'll just get a drink while I wait.

I’ll just get a drink while I wait.

And then part way across the back yard two tree swallows flew in formation right toward me, perhaps 6 inches above the grass. They swooped and swirled through the yard. I stood still. They circled me several times, flew low and then swept up over the tomato cages, then down across the lawn again. Like stealth bombers, their wings were silent unlike the other birds that frequent the yard whose fluttering wings and grumpy cries always let me know when the feeder is empty.

I recognized in that moment how lucky I am. I can stand perfectly still in my backyard, in the middle of a weekday morning, and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.

I demand fresh oranges!

I demand fresh oranges!

I’m reading a book, Slow Love; how I lost my job, put on my pajamas, and found happiness. by Dominque Browning. The author is describing her transition from frenzied work to unemployment. This afternoon I read the following passage which perfectly described how I felt earlier in the day:

“I begin to understand how nothing to do is its own state of grace, difficult to find deliberately, nearly impossible to recognize. Nothing to do means I can sit and look and let my mind wander, then empty, then fill again, with wonder or with grief, with anything or with nothing at all. “Nothing to do” is not the same as “Nothing can be done.” One is hopeless; the other the place from which hope becomes possible.”

In the heat of mid-morning, standing still in the light, I realized that nature was enjoying my yard every day. Used to be that I didn’t get to see it, but now, now that I have nothing to do, it’s all right there for me to enjoy.

Pretty darn cool.

Grape jelly again?!

Grape jelly again?!

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

18 thoughts on “Nothing to do

  1. Great thoughts – I look forward to the day when I can share the feeling. For now summer vacation form school will have to do… I’ve been thinking and wondering will I be ready? Or will I squander the time? Sleeping in a tent in the backyard – that sounds fun! Have wonderful day and soak in the world, peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kinda like me on summer break! Nice post Dawn 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very cool! It’s a wonderful kind of life, isn’t it? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing to do, but nothing stopping you from doing whatever you want 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pretty cool indeed! Sometimes it’s nice to have nothing pressing to do, right? That way, you can enjoy nature right in your own back yard!


  6. Yay! I love this post! Thank you!


  7. This is a great post and one that made me think a bit. I’ve been retired for 1.5 years and after 42 years of full-time employment (more, if count working summers and after school since the 9th grade), I’m finding it really difficult to think about the idea of “nothing to do.” I keep finding things to do around the house but when I’m finished, it’s still hard to think about sitting down with a book or to watch a movie, especially in the middle of the day. I feel like I should be doing something and my leisure reading time should be the same as when I was working: during lunch and in the evening. However, I am starting (finally!) to get in the groove of knowing I can sit and read a book a day if I wish. I just wish the “groove” would give me a release from feeling guilty!


    • Oh… were obviously raised by my Dad! LOL. When we were kids we tried very hard never to let him catch us doing nothing. He’d see us sitting somewhere and ask us what we were doing and if it wasn’t something sufficiently productive he’d find some project for us. So I had a bit of a hard time learning to do nothing too. I’ve been retired 1 year and 22 days. Not that I’m counting. It’s absolutely wonderful. Now, if the sheltie dog would let me sleep past 5:30 everything would be perfect!


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