Although I live in a big city in the Bay Area, it is very quiet at my house. I live at the end of a cul de sac, so there's not a lot of car traffic. There are mostly families and retirees on my block - on weekdays, after the initial early morning bustle of folks on their way to work and school, a peaceful calm takes over. I often sit in my living room with my front door open, letting the cool morning air in, as I listen to dogs barking in the distance and my neighbor's rooster crowing. The shade tree in front of my house makes the morning light so ethereal - and if I want a blast of vitamin D, I can go sit in my backyard and let the sun shine on me for a while. With a cup of coffee in hand, I just let myself feel and hear and smell and breathe the day - a beautiful moment of everything and nothing at the same time
In American culture, taking these moments of doing nothing isn't encouraged - we are always supposed to be doing something - being productive, getting shit done, girl boss! When, really, doing 'nothing' is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself. The Dutch call these moments 'niksen' - from Goodreads: "Niksen is not a form of meditation, nor is it a state of laziness or boredom. It’s not scrolling through social media, or wondering what you’re going to cook for dinner. Rather, to niks is to make a conscious choice to sit back, let go, and do nothing at all." Olga Mecking has written an entire book about why Dutch people are considered among the happiest people in the world - they give themselves permission to do nothing.
I hope you all give yourselves a moment to niks soon - it might feel weird at first, but trust me - it's the best thing you can do for yourself.