Permission To Do Nothing


35 days into my current Australian travels I became utterly exhausted.

A cold, rainy time in Melbourne, 5 days in a cold (down to 6-7C at night) camper van with no heat (awesome trip along The Great Ocean Road though!), and 25 hours in a seat on The Ghan train from Adelaide to Alice Springs had me feeling tired.

Upon arriving in Alice Springs I sat down in the lounge area of my hostel and fired up Google Docs to finish some writing. As I was about to open a file called “The Iron Mind” an article called “Permission to do nothing” caught my eye.

The article had, up to that point, consisted of exactly one sentence:

Permission To Do Nothing

Whenever I have an idea for an article, essay, eBook, Web site…well, anything…I either create a Google Doc, write it in a notebook, or e-mail myself. This was a perfect example of that.

While in Alice Springs I planned on actually doing some tours. You know, doing what other tourists do.

Tangent: There is constant debate amongst people who travel on the tourist vs traveler label, but I’m not stupid enough to consider myself anything other than a tourist whether I fit the stereotype or not.

I will probably never be back to “the red centre” of Australia again, so I should take advantage of the surrounding sights while I’m here, right?

But would it change anything if I see Ayers Rock, a few hundred kilometers away, instead of Meyers Hill, a 10 minute walk from where I’m staying?

Both are beautiful. Both are works of nature. Both are a part of Australia’s history. One would stress the shit out of me right now on a tour. The other, which I could experience by taking a leisurely walk, would make me feel alive.

West Macdonnel Ranges from top of Meyers Hill
West MacDonnell Ranges from top of Meyers Hill

My travel goals are different than most. I’m more in line with what Derek Sivers talks about in his recent Freedom article:

Friends back home would say, “So what did you do in Iceland?”

I’d say, “Same thing as you. Same thing I’d be doing anywhere else. Just programming, working, writing, reading, flirting, living.”

I’m not traveling to see every sight or to do everything. I’m traveling as an alternative means of living.

What would I do back “home” on a Tuesday? I definitely wouldn’t go out to “see the sights” unless it was something special. (Friends/family in town, for example.)

I would eat, read, hang out, ride my bike, write, and eat some more. :)

The point is, I decided I’m not going to go on any tours while here in Alice Springs. I’m staying at a very small, relaxed, hostel and enjoying reading in a hammock, going to the store to buy groceries for lunch/dinner, and writing in the hot, hot heat.  (mmm, I love heat)

The beauty of life is you get to live it as you please. You may have people tell you you’re “doing it wrong” but they get a big fuck you.

“Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.” – Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2.6

If you’re ever at a crossroads on a decision remember to do what you want, not what others expect you to do.

And if you still can’t decide…

You don’t need it, but you have my permission to do nothing.


You may have noticed I posted this on a Thursday even though I already posted on Tuesday. I’m experimenting with a twice/week posting schedule.

I’ve been writing a lot, but my once/week posting schedule means I’m not posting most of it. The problem is editing a post takes me a long time. I’m slow with it. What I’m getting at is there will be a post every Tuesday, and now, for the time being, every Thursday. :) Now, subscribe to the RSS feed, if you haven’t already! ;)


  1. Very interesting post! I think the debate between traveler and tourist is pretty funny… some people really get into it! As long as you are out there seeing new things and meeting new people you’re doing something right!

    • Hey Grant, thanks for commenting! Yeah, that debate can get intense. :) I like your point of view. Seeing what’s out there whether traveler, tourist, or local is kinda what life’s about.

  2. Life is busy. There is always something we could, or should do.

    Doing nothing can get the creativity flowing. Sometimes I think we need some down time restore our spirits. It is difficult, as we feel guilty if we choose to do nothing. We hold high expectations of ourselves. Doing nothing is part of the journey also.

    Great topic.

  3. Honestly, I just love your point, Karol!

    It is a tad Tyler Durdenesque, I admit.
    So let’s to some more 180 degree turns and try something hard:
    Try to have seven absolutely unremarkable days!

    Now before you shake your head too much, let me say where one learns being perfectly ordinary: in primers for doing human intelligence

    That much for a crazy spin!


    • hehe, thanks Hannes! I never thought about it being Tyler-esque but you may be onto something. :)

      I’m not sure I want to try having 7 unremarkable days though. I did that for years. :)


  4. Really enjoying the site. I’ve been seriously thinking about some long term travel, seems like quite change of mind from working the 40 hour job. What do you do for cash?

  5. We recently bought an RV and took our first trip to visit our daughter 2000 miles away. Not traveling simply or inexpensively, but I enjoyed being able to go to my own “home” each night because I did the things I do at home – read, write, do laundry, prepare my meals. I’d never been away from home for two weeks before, but being able to have my own routine helped me stay centered. I’m ready to go again, this time trying to simplify even with the RV. Love your posts.

  6. Stumble onto your blog from Zenhabits. Really enjoyed reading your postings.
    I am with you about traveling – you do not have to succumb to tourist attractions if you don’t want to. The key is to live in a place long enough so you can see everything on your own time. I do that via a boat. Docked in Chattanooga, TN for three seasons, and have yet to visit The famed Aquarium and Ruby Falls!

    • Hi Eileen,

      Thank you, glad you enjoy the posts. :)

      I’ve never been to Chattanooga, but I’m a big fan of the Smoky Mtns not too far away. :)


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