Temps Libre Meets Doing Nothing: An Accidental Moment of Free Time Dectection!

Following yesterday’s posting which was a recap of our time with Sylvie Tourangeau, I was on a walk today to an appointment. My walk had a purpose (getting from point A to point B) but it was a relaxed affair seeing as I had (for once) given myself a lot of leeway to get to where I was going. En route, I passed a crosswalk lady named Carole who smiled serenely at me as I traversed her corner. Just then, when I had turned to look in the direction she was facing, I noticed a line several magnolia trees in full bloom. These were mature trees, tall, majestic and absolutely glorious.

“Oh my!” I exclaimed and turned back again to face Carole. “What an amazing view you have from here, getting to see those incredible flowers at your station.”

“Oh yes,” said Carole. “I take great pleasure in having this beautiful landscape. But it’s not just now: even though those trees are amazing I actually love this corner all times of the year. Each season it’s beautiful for different reasons. But yes, those trees are spectacular, and I see them every year. Although when school lets out and traffic is busy, I don’t really get to pay much attention, I’m too preoccupied with my work. It’s this time of day now, when traffic is quiet that I can just stand here and take it in.”

“…Ah-ha!!” I thought to myself. My Free Time Detector was on (see yesterday’s post) and it effectively sniffed out a moment of pause for this employee of the City of Montreal. This pause, an instance when she wasn’t officially working (though ready, at her station) just “naturally” inserted itself into her day: a moment of daydream, of very subtly Doing Nothing; an interval of free time (a time when her thoughts and gaze could wander freely, without concern for helping the cascade of students to cross safely as she does, when on duty).

Noticing her moment of “Free Time” spilled over to my own sense of pause, making my walk today that much more nuanced and spacious. My mission to get somewhere was now infused with the light scent of magnolia, and a partaking in another being’s delicate joy.

Author: Victoria Stanton

Montreal-based performance artist, writer, and educator Victoria Stanton explores live action, human interaction, video, film, photography, and drawing.

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