Gammal man


To do nothing

I’m sitting at Cafè Cult in Vänersborg, Sweden and practising doing nothing. The refill of the coffee is included here, so the conditions are good. I drink coffee and watch people and let my thoughts run wild. Small towns are good if they have not died of their own accord, that is. But Vänersborg is still alive and there are nice cafes with outdoor seating on the main street. People cheer and know each other.

It is difficult to do nothing, especially since my work nowadays involves such a large amount of thinking work. It is very easy for my thoughts to suddenly slip into some text I am currently working on – as an editor or as a writer. Or, for that matter, as an illustrator. Drawing sometimes involves 50 % thought work, if not more, to know what and how to draw. So it can look like I’m doing nothing when I’m actually working full time. An illusion of idleness.

But, apart from writing this post, I’m trying to do nothing this afternoon in Vänersborg. This is an obvious lie because, at the same time, I’m writing a blog post about doing nothing. I’m fooling myself.

A very old man walks slowly past me on the street with his back heavily arched. I make a quick sketch of him and wonder at which workplace he once toiled away. I realize that I have now both written and drawn, so the grade must be “barely passed” in the art of doing nothing.

I have a long way to go towards unemployment. Maybe I can keep up with the old crooked man on the street. He might know how to do it.

Mattias is an author and illustrator

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