Doing nothing is not the same as having nothing to do, although they are closely related. For most of our lives the idea of doing nothing seems like the best possible way to spend a day because during our working/child raising years there are few available, except for the odd vacation, and then the pressure to do things is enormous.

If doing nothing requires "going somewhere different", the greater the distance to different, the more that needs to be done before the opportunity to do nothing arrives. Maui, Aruba, Nepal, Bruge, The Czech Republic, Cabo San Lucas, Bali, Grand Teton National Park - all seem like great places to do nothing but the two-way planning, preparation, packing and travel, to say nothing of the must do and see places and activities often reduces the doing nothing time to sleeping which, in order to survive, we all must do fairly regularly.

Beach, pool, porch, balcony, rooftop, and Jacuzzi sitting are most people's idea of doing nothing. It's hard to sit for too long, however, without reading a book, sipping a drink, or engaging in conversation. Not doing much, but making doing nothing a lot more fun.

Fun is the condition we seek to fill the hours when we actually have nothing to do. Having nothing to do can be a bit unsettling for the very busy person, and downright frightening for those who don't look at Tuesday any differently than Sunday. It's hard to have fun doing nothing but easy, if not downright exciting, to have nothing to do but having fun.

Some activities - good food, great theatre, calm seas, consensual sex, a perfect three iron, a royal flush, are 100% fun, while others like the family drive, cocktail parties, conventions, ballet and church are supposed to be fun but are largely not.

In fact, if one makes a list of all of life's activities from bridge to bowling, little league to lap dancing, gardening to gambling, meditation to masturbation, singing to smoking, pruning to praying, and ranked them on the funmeter we might discover that a large portion of the little bit of time that most people have for doing nothing/having fun is someone else's idea of having fun and therefore something to do.

Things to do fall into three categories - MUST DO - eat, sleep, use the toilet, work, pay taxes, drink water and die. WANT TO DO - have sex with Angelina Jolie, own a Porsche 911 turbo, hit a perfect 3 iron, win the lottery, go to a Red Sox Cubs world series - SHOULD DO - love your wife and kids every minute of every day, take a family driving vacation to national parks, go to church, enjoy ballet and chamber music, accept defeat graciously, smile when the stock market collapses, and be sympathetic when a headache destroys your long awaited weekend away.

How we manage the time allotted to the musts, wants, and shoulds - the importance we place and the enjoyment we derive from each pretty much determines whether we are essentially happy, unhappy, or miserable. Too many people devote their entire lives to the musts and the shoulds and create all kinds of reasons for never attempting the wants or postponing them until later.

The older we get, the longer we wait, the less time we have for the wants and the harder they are to achieve. It is vastly more difficult to hit a perfect 3 iron at 60 than at 16 and some old backs won't bend sufficiently to get in and out of a 911 Porsche. In our youth we are best equipped to sail around the world, dive off the Barrier Reef, and spend a long weekend with a starlet. Unfortunately most of us at that time were involved in the business of survival and lacked the resources to do little other than dream.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is to laugh and be merry while we can, to try as many wants as possible, as we only have a finite number of chances to enjoy having nothing to do.