The Art of Doing Nothing

I don’t usually post mid-week but had some inspiration to do something a little bit different. We are on vacation hanging out in Courtenay, BC which is a pretty laid back small city on Vancouver Island. It is nestled in between the mountains and the sea. Its pace of life is pretty placid, and it encourages vacations of renewal and relaxation, of doing nothing.

So yesterday was about doing nothing. We slept in, we got up, made lattes, sat on the deck and watched the birds in the tidal shallows. Goose Spit is across the bay from us and we hadn’t ever really explored it. We jumped in the car and drove around to the other side of the bay and engaged in a two-hour walk along the sand and in the water. During our walk we met a man from Belgium who had followed a woman to Vancouver Island 30 years ago and never left (the woman did) and a guy who was an orchard farmer in Ontario and sold it 25 years ago to live by the sea (it seems to have gone well for him … pretty fit and healthy guy!).

We then ended up at a local restaurant for fish tacos while trying to figure out where to buy fresh clams for some linguini vongole for dinner. After a couple of stops to pick up various things we ended up at home for a little nap and a drink on the deck before we cooked up dinner then settled in to read for a bit before bed.

You know what? It’s hard to do nothing!! We did a whole lot of stuff trying to do nothing yesterday! I guess what I really found out is that I don’t want to do nothing. What I want to do is hang out with my best friend (my wife) and only do things that I love to do. That would include exploring and discovering, meeting new people, making great food and creating beautiful things.

My form of art is photography. I thought I would share some of the things I’ve come across over the past two days. Most of this art has been hand painted by nature. Some of it has a bit more of a human touch!. Please enjoy and feel free to critique!

Nature’s yin and yang
Sometimes it is hard to believe what nature creates
Sometimes it is hard to believe what nature creates
Ebb and flow
Ebb and flow
The innocent joy of childhood. A pool, a sunny day, and a piece of wood that morphs into a boat
The innocent joy of childhood. A pool, a sunny day, and a piece of wood that morphs into a boat
A collage of colour and texture
A collage of colour and texture
Light and shadows
Another masterpiece of creation
Another masterpiece
There is often beauty in the neglected
There is often beauty in the neglected
The gentleman from Belgium pointed this out to us and hinted that perhaps Mother Nature is a jewelry designer
The gentleman from Belgium pointed this out to us and hinted that perhaps Mother Nature is a jewelry designer

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Ian Munro @

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

11 thoughts on “The Art of Doing Nothing

  1. I love the photos and the colours! What a great vacationing spot. When reading the line where you said it hard to do nothing, you’d rather do things that both you and your wife love, I realized that often when I’m doing what I love on vacation or with my free time, I call it nothing when someone asks! A light bulb moment for me. As if doing what I love is not as important as doing what I must, maybe even more important…

    1. Well said Diana. We must do what we must, but do we artificially inflate that list and in the process sacrifice time we could use to do more of what brings us happiness?

  2. Such a great conversation — and the pics are beautiful!

    Can I paint some of them? Would you mind. I’d love to do something with what you’re eye has captured… 🙂

    And as to ‘doing nothing’ — I’ve decided it is actually the art of doing everything with Love in the moment of being present.

    There’s nothing to scoff at in that equation. Just a whole bunch of joy!

    Lovely post Ian. Love to you both!

  3. Ian,

    You know I am a quiet reader of your blog.

    Why? Because everything else here is about self-promotion. This place is the opposite.
    Probably because you have fully realized some of your dreams. Not all of them. Just some.

    Personally, I could stop working right now. Isn’t 30 years of 9 to 5 enough. I am unfortunately in good health. I think I will go through Calgary beginning of October, just because I can. I have a hard time imagining what I want to do next.

    I would just cross-train: bike, roller, jogging, etc. I have a friend who left his job of 25 years to cross America on his bicycle. Started in YVR and is now in St-John, Nfld. He is coming back to YUL afterward and will have to rebuild his life.

    How do you organize your life when, any day you feel like it, you can hop on a flight on Delta, AF, KLM or WJ for a nominal fee? Nobody is really helping me with that.


    1. Thanks for the comments Michel, and I appreciate your ongoing support in continuing to read and contribute.

      I think the thoughts you express are common for many as we approach retirement. Our lives have been orchestrated for us for so many years and it is now actually up to us to determine how to use our time in a way we consider meaningful. And I think it is this last word “meaningful” which is the true challenge!

  4. An ah-ha moment for me here. My husband’s choice of vacations (we call them holidays here in Australia) were always spent in some frenetic activity. Either a ‘roaming’ holiday flitting to a different place every day, or in active play pastimes as skiing, kayaking, bush-walking etc. Whilst I joined in and enjoyed myself, I always came back home exhausted.

    NOW I am able to have the holidays of my dreams…… doing nothing!

    1. That sounds like a dream! Let me know if you are more successful doing nothing than me! But I do agree that the key is to come back refreshed, so that when the things we do on holidays bring us joy and energy we accomplish that objective!

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