Being lazy vs. relaxing: observations in zone 00


What has been noted time and time again is the ability of people themselves to stand in the way of positive action, right through from a personal to a global level. – Looby Macnamara


You know when you’re lying there being a lazy-ass couch potato when things should be getting done?

I do.

My mother, on the other hand, was not lazy. She had four children and worked through most of my childhood, and lounging was not an activity she engaged in…like, ever. Now that we’re all grown, she still can’t sit still unless there’s a cooking show on TV. She’s either whipping up some impressive exotic dish, volunteering for land conservation groups, gardening, taking care of my nephews for my sister, or stubbornly restoring her old farm house. She’s decided she’ll raise chickens this year. Always a project up the sleeve.

I’m a little different from my mother. I don’t sleep in obscenely late or lounge around in my pajamas eating crisps for brunch, (ok – maybe occasionally). However, I’ve certainly mastered the art of doing little when I could be doing a whole heck of a lot more. After work, I’ll watch reruns of Big Bang Theory and eat plates of broodjes pindakaas met hagelslag because I can’t be bothered to make myself a proper meal or get my ass in gear for a productive evening. If I could just accept and enjoy the experience, that would make sense. But I don’t. I fret about what I ought to be doing.

“I should be working on my permaculture projects. I should dig that compost into the front garden (done). I should be meditating (going on a meditation retreat next week). I should be writing my next blog (doing)…cleaning the house (done), organizing my finances (this so badly needs doing). I should just go to bed early.

my favourite, do-nothing haunt.

my favourite, do-nothing haunt.

Now, the above activities are all either completed or in the process of being completed, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself…but still. I’m wasting precious time, and I know that.

Lazy, negative activities like flipping through channels in a zombie-like manner are different from productive leisure, which I do on the weekend in my favourite café. That kind of non-action doesn’t bother me. It’s productive leisure because I’m reading or people watching. I’m getting joy out of it.

Self-observation: Permaculture’s Zone 00 and why I told you the little story above
I’m thinking about the ebbs and flows of my motivation in observing “zone 00” as part of my Permaculture diploma program. For those of you unfamiliar with permaculture, it is an art of living that promotes beneficial relationships both in nature and with people; in other words working with land and people in a sustainable manner. Sustainability is creating systems that can be sustained and have either a neutral or positive impact on people/planet. Read more about permaculture.

Within the art of permaculture, a designer should observe an area of land for at least a year. They should take in patterns (see below) ecosystems, microclimates and their edges, weather patterns, elevation, and animal activity, to name a few. Within an area of land, there are different “zones” for different purposes, with zone 1 being closest to the home or human dweller. Zone 00, then, is the observation of the inner terrain of the person designing.

So through my observation of 00, I will note the following:

  1. Physical: overall energy, digestion, skin condition, exercise and eating patterns;
  2. Mental: mood, motivation, sense of spirit, how ‘organized’ I feel with the day, whether or not I’ve meditated;
  3. Environment: where I’m going/where I’ve been, physical environment of home and work space, special activities.

Patterns serve as a foundation for observing 00
Patterns are the basis of life (and no doubt the basis of my perceived laziness!!). They make up nature, the universe, our bodies, our social structure, and our personalities. In observing patterns in nature, we can also see patterns in our own lives. I’m reading Looby Macnamara’s book People and Permaculture, and she encourages her readers to think of things in their own physical bodies and lives in terms of patterns. It’s like buying a red Honda: once you do it, you see them everywhere.


Wave: Heart beat/blood flow, breathing, brain activity, ups and downs in mood, biorhythm,  sex/orgasm, romance/lust, music/singing, laughter, panic, stress, motivation at work, self-confidence, learning curves


Spiral: DNA, inner ear, sprial waves of the heart, umbilical chord, growing emotionally, growing friendships, growing professionally, improving writing skills, retaining permaculture comprehension, getting older/wiser, building love, creating children, dancing


Branching: Blood vessels, lungs, heart and arteries, arms and legs/fingers and toes, website design work, people networking, anchoring myself in my relationship, creating financial stability, exploratory learning, family tree

honeycombHoneycomb: Skin cells, hair, finger/toenails, interdependent teamwork, nuclear family unit, learning modules, physical shelter (roof), making/using a quilt, houndstooth clothing, human chain, (other people) knitting

webWeb: Bones, eyelashes/eyebrows, clothing, skin as a cover to the body, wound scabs, webs between fingers and toes, web sites, getting acquainted with a group, societal standards, observed racism/prejudice, classification

Do you ever notice the above patterns in your life? If not, take a moment to think about it. For me, it’s fun to discover how we’re just like the rest of nature – a design!



  1. Pingback: Permaculture principle 1: Observe and interact | evolution

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