• Eve Bernfeld

Portrait of a Mother in Repose


Photo by CHI CHEN on Unsplash

Saturday is the one day I dispense with my morning routine. No scraping myself out of bed before my family to sweep, write and walk before chivvying us all out the door. And this week something magical happened—I had enough time to sit quietly and savor an entire cup of tea without anyone talking to me. This is pretty unheard of. The kids were playing in the back yard and my husband was still in bed. It was splendid and… hard. Every 30 seconds or so a thought would send a jolt through my nervous system:


I should clean up those legos!


Oh no, I forgot to send that email yesterday!


So many meetings next week!


Is that my phone beeping in the other room?


It is so foreign to me to sit and do nothing for the length of a cup of tea that it was a challenge to do so. All the more reason to keep working on it.


When was the last time you did nothing for 5 or 10 minutes? No screen, no agenda. I take Alexander Technique lie-downs every day, which in some ways is more restful than snuggling on the couch with a cuppa. But it’s a “thing I do”—an assignment to myself with the purpose of undoing muscular and emotional tensions build up throughout the day. This other thing, this moment of repose in a fleetingly quiet house, is somehow different. There is no agenda. There is no assignment. There is no mental gold star for doing it.


This moment combined non-doing, which is sometimes framed as asceticism, with pleasure (I love tea!), which is sometimes framed as hedonism. Another unexamined cultural belief to throw on the fire next to “I don’t have time to do nothing” is “I can do pleasant things only when I’m too busy/distracted to really enjoy them.” Ha!


Well, working my way through a dozen or so jolts of suddenly needing to “do something,” I enjoyed the hell out of that cup of tea.

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