This week I found myself in Exeter with 30 minutes to spare. Lots of ideas sprung to mind about how I could spend my time; wander around the shops, buy a cup of tea, do some useful shopping, do some not-so-useful shopping...
But instead I chose sitting by the cathedral.
On a cold March day it wasn't as comfortable as being in the shops but the unexpected warmth of the sunshine was enough to tempt me to stay. Also, there's a strange satisfaction in spending half an hour doing nothing, spending nothing. Getting to the end of the thirty minutes, being surrounded by shops and having the same money as at the start seems quite exciting, like you've achieved something.
It really shouldn't be that impressive. But even a small time not spending money can be hard. I must really try to do more spend-nothing days.
While I was spending nothing I got to look at the cathedral and take in its awesome architecture. Hundreds of years of stone, history and artwork; it's amazing to think what those walls will have seen. I also saw my first bee of the year and heard lots of birds signing ready for the new season. Spending some time taking in the world around you, thinking about your day or just watching people can be great for getting things in perspective. That must-buy item in a shop, or that naughty chocolate bar, are less tempting after a little bit of quiet reflection.
So overall, I think those thirty minutes were much better spent outside than inside. I felt refreshed and with a stronger will against impulse shopping or grumpyness for the rest of the day, and I saved money that would probably have otherwise been spent on useful stuff.
So if you get the chance this week, spend a while just standing, or sitting, and admire the view, enjoy the birdsong or just the feeling of not doing or spending anything.