Or “How I Didn’t Spend My Summer Vacation.”
This is one of those posts that, perhaps, is better suited in some ways for Old Man, Talking, but this one has pictures and that other site is involved in a new novel which you should probably read, so we’re going to put this one here for the convenience of having here for the purpose of putting things.
I wrote recently of the need for everyone to take a vacation, and some people, I’ve noticed by the endless parade of beach and lake pictures on social media, have done so. Not all of us can take those risks, though, which hardly seems fair, but then, nothing ever is, so, whatever, man. We have to find our own leisure.
If Dudeism has a sacrament, and nothing officially says that it does, it is bowling; not necessarily in the literal sense, though that’s where this is ultimately going, but at least in the metaphorical sense of engaging in an activity that requires absolutely no skill for one to enjoy the act of participation. Just don’t step over the line, man. We’d have to mark it a zero.
Turns out, there’s a lot of wisdom in doing nothing. Kierkegaard, when he wasn’t doing something else, said “Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.” Gertrude Stein took it a bit further with, “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Extrapolate out a bit and that honorary Ph.D. one gets for doing nothing starts to feel pretty weighty.
Perhaps the quote that best gets to the point is this one from The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, translated by Burton Watson. Pay attention to this:
Once there was a man who was afraid of his shadow and who hated his footprints, and so he tried to get away from them by running. But the more he lifted his feet and put them down again, the more footprints he made. And no matter how fast he ran, this shadow never left him, and so, thinking that he was still going too slowly, he ran faster and faster without a stop until his strength gave out and he fell down dead. He didn’t understand that by lolling in the shade he could have gotten rid of his shadow and by resting in quietude he could have put an end to his footprints.
Leisure comes in many forms and to say that one has to go bowling in the literal sense would be antithetical to the most basic premise of Dudeism. You’ve got to be you. Still, there’s something to be said for sitting around in rented shoes and heaving a 14-pound ball at ten carefully-weighted pieces of shaped wood. Personally, I find it cathartic right up until about the eighth frame when my shoulder starts hurting, causing me to drop the last two frames. My diagnosis is that I should probably spend more time bowling.
Looking for something we could do with children led us to this reliable form of recreation. We confirmed with the bowling alley that no one was allowed in without a mask (they were delightfully fierce about that qualification), social distancing was excessively enforced, and that every reasonable sanitation method was being applied, piled the offspring into the van, and introduced them to this most sacred of Dudeist pastimes, which, qualifying as vacation this year, necessitated pictures.
Who won or even how high the scores were is irrelevant. There’s no proof that the Dude himself ever actually bowled a frame; he just sat there as though he might if he’d wanted to. The whole scoring thing is digital now anyway, which makes that bowling class I took in college, where the final exam was correctly scoring a game, by hand, on paper, rather moot at this point. What’s important is that we were introducing the children to the skill of leisure, a skill that, when properly refined, will do them much good for the rest of their lives. They’re too young for bowling alley beer, of course, but there were chili dogs so, in some ways, from a gastrointestinal perspective, I guess that’s the same.
I guess what I’m showing you this week are, kind of, our family vacation photos. And one might notice that I’m not in any of the photos. That’s not a bad thing. The evidence of my presence is the fact that the photos exist. Of course, I couldn’t just dump them on you with standard processing. I’d be just like everyone else on social media if I did that. They’re what we’ll call “enhanced”. Whether you like them or not is, like, just your opinion, man. What’s important is that we understand the great importance of leisure, of actively, intentionally, doing nothing. Look at the pictures and then take a nap.
Remember these words of Oscar Wilde: “To do nothing is the most difficult thing in the world. The most difficult, and the most intellectual.”