An Invitation To Spend A Few Minutes Doing Absolutely Nothing

This was for a challenge to write something on ‘doing nothing’.


You have made yourself a cup of tea or coffee, poured a cold beer or fetched a glass of water.  It might be a cold afternoon and you have gone back to bed to huddle for warmth, or maybe this is a summer morning and you are sat in the back garden sunshine.  Whoever else is around – friends, colleagues, loved ones – can see that you have in your hands, or on your screen, a document to read.  This already buys you several minutes out of your day to day life.

What follows is a decoy. 

You are invited to use the few minutes in which it could reasonably be expected that you are reading the document, to do nothing (nothing at all).  I personally assure you that there isn’t anything of interest, value, importance or consequence that will be conveyed in the remaining 600 words of this document.


He’s a mad scientist type in a country house, somewhere a little bit out of the way but not completely in the middle of nowhere. The house would be large enough to house a big family, though he has no family at all, and has, at its front, space to park several cars, though he doesn’t drive. The garden boasts a lawn of rolling green, some impressive trees and birds that visit to flit from one part of the garden to the other.

At some earlier point in his life, the mad scientist type must have been well remunerated for making an important discovery or clever invention, though the details of this are neither important nor available. 

He gives the impression of being scatter-brained, but his mind is in fact very neatly ordered, perfectly tidy and functional.  The impression of him as a mad scientist type is partly due to the lack of importance he places in certain things (e.g. hair-combing, paper-tidying, indulging in small talk on social occasions) and partly an image he conveys on purpose for his own amusement. When he was a public figure he was always a flamboyant introvert – everybody noticed when he walked into a room, and they all noticed that he would look uncomfortable and say little.

On those occasions, he felt that every tiny movement he made was being audited, anything he did might cause something to happen. But the atmosphere he has cultivated here, in this big house on this grey day, is one in which anything he does will go unnoticed – nothing he does here today will matter.

This is the nature of his current experiment, which is neither at its start nor coming to an end. It is a continual anti-investigation in which the mad scientist type strives to uncover processes which have absolutely no effect on the universe. Things that can happen without any consequence whatsoever.

Many of these remain as yet undiscovered.

What he does is that he moves around the house, trying to keep his movements almost completely normal – he walks around and then sits or maybe stands and looks out of a window and then

with as little conscious purpose as possible, taking both himself and the universe by surprise, upsetting

He doesn’t creep around the house, his movements are almost completely normal. He walks around and then sits or maybe stands and at some point he will enact a small process, when he spots something that can be done that will have no consequences, if this is a thing which is indeed possible.

Maybe he upturns something that was previously upright;

shifts the position of an item by ninety degrees;

crumples something and uncrumples it;

sends something tumbling;

crumbles a rusting item;

encircles an item;

completely ignores something;

taps something to see if it makes a noise;

picks up an item and then puts it straight back down again;

hides an item in one of his hands and forces himself to guess which hand it might be in;

turns something inside out then rolls it across the floor;

does something to or with an item.

The mad scientist type can do all these things with the freedom that comes with knowing he is completely alone and that nothing he does has any effect on anything else. He touches with the lightness of touch of knowing no matter really matters, that all can be reset and

He is an unobserved fictional entity and nothing he does will make any difference


Enjoy the rest of your day.