The Importance of Doing Nothing

By Abi King | British Virgin Islands

Jan 14

Closed gone fishingFor two hours now, I’ve watched the waves curl one across the other in a marbled mixture of turquoise and frothy white. Above them, pelicans lurch with comic effect before dropping like torpedoes in a single soaring swoop.

In short, I’ve had nothing to do and nowhere to go – and I have tasted freedom.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I have photos to take and articles to write. Exercise to attend do and an inbox more swollen than the archives of Shakespeare. But my current situation – in addition to its overwhelming beauty – has more or less demanded that I forget all that for a while.

The internet is patchy. The batteries running low. There’s the time difference and the lack of a table and chair. But above all else, there’s the wasted opportunity of an almost criminal nature. How can I let this pass me by while I glaze my eyes to a screen?

Footprints on a beach

That’s the freedom that travel gives us, I think. The permission to rest and to breathe and to think – at least for some of the time.

And that time, of course, is precious: we can’t know how much we will have.

The Fabulous Feeling of Freedom

In between the fall of fat raindrops, inspiration bubbles inside.

My notebook now sings with shiny new plans and the cherry-picked thoughts from the hundreds that passed by.

But as this photo reminds me, as do those wings that glide through the sky: we have won the fight for freedom, for most of us reading at least.

And so that authoritarian watchkeeper, the one who decides how we spend our time, whether we date our dreams or roll around in nothingness and let the thoughts fly by, that gatekeeper to our freedom lives within us.

It isn’t always easy.  (And there’s no doubt that a tropical beach most definitely helps.)

The gatekeeper to our freedom lives within us

But among the many things that we all have to buckle down and do, among the burdens we each must bear and the pain that we fear no-one else will understand, we still have it in ourselves to set time aside for just living, just breathing, and just watching the world go by.

We can’t always find two hours. But we can’t never find that much as well.Let that be my new resolution, declared here for 2014. To laugh more, smile more, do nothing more and let that rise out from the other goals and targets that glint and gleam ahead.

I’ll follow it no matter what happens, but I’m just interested to hear what you think about the following idea:

The importance of doing nothing

Disclosure: The beautiful beach in question is Long Bay as seen from the Long Bay Beach Club in Tortola, the British Virgin Islands. I’m staying here as a guest of Elite Island Resorts but as ever, as always what I write here is up to me. Especially when it comes to New Year resolutions!


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

LoveLyndaLovely January 14, 2014

I love the Italian phrase/philosopy of ‘dolce far niente’ and making an effort to enjoy those moments without feeling you SHOULD be doing something. I recently had an unwanted enforced break (only a few days) from the internet and went from panic to acceptance to savouring the freedom. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

    Abi King January 28, 2014

    That’s a lovely phrase – and an idea I’m keen to embrace this year!

Shereen January 14, 2014

I often have a hard time doing nothing for long periods of time but I think being in front of a beautiful beach view would definitely help to just sit back and take it all in and not think about anything.

    Abi King January 28, 2014

    No doubt about it – the beach helped!

rachelmorri January 16, 2014

I cannot agree more. We need a break from stress; work, home, pollution and what not.. and there’s one place on earth that’s been always effective in relieving me from stress; the beach.. and lesser people is much better. It’s important to keep your sanity, or you’d find yourself one day mentally ill in one corner, or is close to getting insane. I don’t know why I said that, maybe because I’m longing for the beach for a long time now.. and I’m close to eating my hair.. haha just kidding.

I love the door sign though.. will create one for myself. Wish I could go to the beach by the end of this month.

    Abi King January 28, 2014

    I grew up by the sea (on a distinctly less tropical beach than this!) but regularly used to walk to the beach and just watch the waves crash and smash around to help clear my head. It seems I have forgotten how to do this a little as the years have passed by…Here’s to beaches and breaks!

Chanel @ La Viajera Morena February 8, 2014

I watched this great movie last night called ‘The Blue Lagoon: The Awakening” and it was about this girl who was uptight and planned EVERYTHING out and was always keeping herself busy. It wasn’t until she got stranded on a desert island with nothing to do that she discovered who she was and how calming it could be to have no plans at all, and to do nothing. It is important to give yourself breaks and just to relax and do nothing.

Great post :D

    Abi King February 19, 2014

    Ha – I know I’m in no danger of overplanning things but I do often feel a sense of guilt if I’m not working whenever I can be. I shall strive to take your advice more often!

Arun October 31, 2014

Absolutely loved this post. ‘do nothing’ something we all want to do and sometimes strive to do. Indeed, a charming place helps…

Comments are closed