niksen

Hammock (1923) by Henri Lebasque. Painting held in the Matsukata collection at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan. Public domain.

My well-earned, long break after months and months of hard work is almost over. ‘Sprinter’ sprang and was over before I realised it and even ‘sprummer’ is now almost over.

Apart from spending time with family visiting from overseas, I’ve been relishing doing nothing. I had a stack of books to read and a list of things-to-do-when-I-have-more-time, but I seem to have accomplished hardly any of it. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

One thing I did do, however, was finally catch up on the ‘news’ that, after the Danish hygge and the Swedish lagom, there’s a new loanword on the block: the Dutch word niksen. Just as was the case for hygge and lagom, there really isn’t anything special or unique about either the word or the concept. It’s a verb derived from the word niks, ‘nothing’, and it’s been around (in Dutch) since the 1950s. Some articles seem to imply that niksen is a Dutch concept, which is a bit silly. What is dolce far niente? Or smelling the roses? And, as some of the articles I read point out, the Dutch aren’t that great at doing nothing either. Anyway, I’m all for promoting the benefits of doing nothing but you don’t have to call it niksen to practise it, and doing nothing doesn’t have to literally mean ‘doing nothing’ either …

Not that it isn’t fun to learn a new word in a foreign language. My favourite is still the Japanese word tsundoku. If I can believe what I read on the internet …

Le Pradet, young woman in a hammock (1923) by Henri Lebasque. Painting held in a private collection. Public domain.