On Monday morning, a colleague at work asked me, “So, how was your weekend? What did you do?” My answer was instinctive, “Weekend was good. Did nothing! Was at home.” When I thought about it later, I realized that this ‘Nothing’ actually meant a lot. It meant quality time spent with my wife. It meant playing and sharing laughs with my daughter. It meant conversations with my parents. It meant flipping through a good book. It meant watching a great movie on the television. It meant going for walks in the evening. This is just my definition of the ‘Nothing’ that I did over the past weekend. ‘Nothing’ can mean so much more.
‘Nothing’ is actually pregnant with possibilities. It is an open canvas on which you can paint whatever you want. How liberating! There are no limiting factors, when you start out with nothing. You can do whatever you want. It means freedom. Not everyone can handle it. I think a lot of us working in the corporate world would become quite unsettled with it. So much so that we like to keep a ‘To Do’ list for the weekends and even the vacations that we take.
Remember the TV show Seinfeld? Do you remember what that show was about? Yes, you are right, it was about nothing. A show about nothing went on to become one of the most successful and the most watched television shows of all time. Across the world. The great thing about Seinfeld was that it was not encumbered with baggage regarding what the show was about. It did not have to fit a mold. It did not follow a formula like many other shows, where all characters and situations are designed to fit with the theme of the show.
At a philosophical level, nothingness is a very powerful concept. Many philosophers have expounded on the nature of reality by exploring the theme of nothingness / emptiness. As the famous Indian mythologist, Devdutt Pattanaik says, maybe, this philosophy is what inspired Indian mathematicians to discover the number zero. That discovery as we all know, changed the world. This blog post that I’m writing, is because of the computing and internet revolution that the number zero enabled. It is impossible to describe scientific concepts such as cosmic vacuum or electron holes without the concept of ‘Nothing’.
‘Nothing’! So may layers. So many meanings. Calvin, the lovable character created by the genius Bill Watterson, once remarks in one of the Calvin and Hobbes strips, “There is never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” This is such a powerful quote. Every time I read it, I discover another layer hidden in it. My learning about ‘Nothing’ is that we should live in the present moment and be completely alive to the experiences that we are having. Live and breathe every moment. It does not matter if that moment brings ‘something significant’ such as a promotion or a new piece of property, or ‘nothing’ such as feeling the warm glow of the setting sun on your bare shoulder. My learning is, ‘Nothing’ matters!