Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Doing Nothing

with 2 comments


Whenever I come into contact with old friends from Toronto, they invariably ask the same question:

“What do you do up there now that you’re retired?”

This is sometimes followed by another more pointed query:

“Don’t you get bored?”

Sometimes my answer to the first question is: Nothing! And to the second I always say: No!

Every day is Saturday and every week is a long weekend. I wish for little and want for nothing as far as time goes. I have come to appreciate the phrase my father used to say to me when I spent summers working for him as a bricklayer’s apprentice. Whenever he threw down his trowel at the end of the day he would look at his handiwork and wish for:

“…la dolcezza di non fare niente…”

Literally translated he longed for retirement and “…the sweetness of doing nothing.”

I am living his wish right now. But if he were alive he’d be up here. And, I’d be labourer to his stonemason as we built one of his famous outdoor fireplaces that doubles as a Bar-B-Que and pizza oven. It would be a satisfying way of doing nothing. But that’s another story.

I am at the far end of the continuum now. Things happen at my pace. My decisions are influenced only by those closest to me. Although I’d like a radio station that plays jazz all day…and a place that bakes bagels like Gryfe’s does, and a bakery that knows how to make a true croissant. But these are just little things. In the grand tapestry of life they are but loose threads.

All of which brings to mind the lines Leonard Woolf (Virginia’s husband) once wrote:

“There are other assets of old age. The storms and stresses of life, the ambitions and competitions, are over. The futile and unnecessary and false responsibilities have fallen from one’s shoulders and one’s conscience.”

He was 85 when he came to this conclusion. I reached it a long time before that.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 17, 2009 at 7:31 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Ed- Wow- this entry on “doing nothing”- just slowed me right down this morning. I was off in many directions(in my head,I mean) and now I am relaxing, savouring my choices. It is wonderful to be retired and I want to keep remembering that the best way to predict your future is to create it.
    You are one fine example of predicting yor future. Glad to know you. Regards jan

    jan chamberlain

    February 19, 2009 at 1:05 PM

  2. G’morning Ed…
    Reading your “Doing Nothing” is as enjoyable the second time around as it is the first. Maybe this is the way we introduce you to Small Talk readers?? In addition, as the furtherest thing from a jazz fan I loved the potent combination of the “king” and the opera presented in “Opera Blues”. I have the aria; “Habanera” in my favorites on Youtube. I think it’s about three selections away from another favorite of mine; Sanatana’s ; “Soul Sacrifice”.
    Perhaps we should share our appreciation for potent combinations by having a dry martini with the Boss Burger on Tuesday??? (Portugal Olives, of course)


    April 13, 2009 at 8:41 AM

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