Chapter 28: Schedule Time for Nothingness

Schedule Time for Nothingness

We could leave the pages blank.
I could convince my publisher to include no nouns or verbs in this chapter.

No font, no phrases, no stories, no poetic flow, no information, no inspiration.

We could leave the lines of this chapter bare.

Vacant space might say little. Or it might state much.

Well, as you can see, we didn’t. We did not leave the pages blank. I am typing as I am thinking, and you are thinking as you are reading. As we are doing what we are doing, I am asking us both to stop most of what we are normally doing. I am arguing that we will only find the balance we seek in life if we stop searching so rapidly for it. Equilibrium in our hurried world might occur when we level the haste with relaxation, the goals with empty sheets, the determination with a siesta, the resolve with rest.

Yes, add this to your list of ways toward a balanced life: nothing. Not the right words. No words at all.
Not the right steps. No steps at all.
Not the right program. No program at all.

Schedule unscheduled time. Avoid the noise. Welcome the silence. Plan times for silence. Pursue it. Welcome it. Embrace it.

I remember an evening when I stared at the stars. They were clear, bright, beautiful. I reached to grab my phone to take a picture. I stopped myself and didn’t take one. I reached for my phone again, this time to write my own thoughts about what I was seeing and how I was feeling. I stopped myself and didn’t write anything.

I did nothing. And nothing was the something I needed to do.

It wasn’t easy. You know how our minds work. They hurry on ahead, find- ing work to be done as time is running out. That happened. Several times, that happened. Each time, sometimes better than other times, I brought my mind back to peaceful rest. I changed mental channels. I rewired the machine. I found the beauty of doing nothing.

The breeze felt nice. The chair wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was fine. An owl came—I thought for a moment she might have something to tell me. She left. Then she returned. This time I did cheat. I took a picture. I think she smiled.

I did. I smiled.

I had not smiled before on that day, if my memory is correct.

That evening was when I had gone away from everyone and everything. At least, everyone I was usually around and everything that was usually around me.

Call it a sabbath. Call it a break. Call it nothingness.

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  1. What drives you to work hard?
  2. How is that good?
  3. How can that be harmful?
  4. What are good times for you to intentionally plan times of nothingness?
  5. How can nothingness help bring a better balance in your typical schedule?
  6. How can it help you become a better, healthier person?


We live a dark and confusing world. Maxwell’s prose and his poetry are just the antidote you’ve been looking for—creative, a bit capricious, and wonderfully uplifting.

Dr. Mark Rutland

Executive Director, National Institute of Christian Leadership