The Nothing Box


Tonight at work, my coworkers were talking about how only guys are capable of thinking about nothing. I’ve heard this phenomenon called “The Nothing Box” where guys can abandon all other thoughts and simply think about nothing at all.

This concept is foreign to most women. Girls cannot stop thinking, which isn’t nearly as productive as it sounds. Our brains work like computers with multiple windows up at the same time: we have millions of thoughts running in eternal loops through our heads. Very rarely do we get an opportunity to give one individual thought our undivided attention, much less think about nothing at all. It’s distracting and even frustrating. While some of us mock men for being able to shut their brains off, most of us are merely envious.

I know I am. The noise in my head is deafening. Everything that I need to do or process is whirring through my head at once. I can’t compartmentalize. Few women can. Few of us can honestly say “Eh, I’ll think about that later.” If it’s important enough, we’ll think about it constantly, while also dwelling on ten other things that we have to check off the task list by the end of the day. This ability to mull ad infinitum contributes to the horrible female tendency of holding grudges for decades. True story.

Guys are lucky. They can put thoughts in boxes, label them, and come and go from a thought as often or as little as they choose. They even get a “Nothing Box,” a dark and soundproof room in their brains where nothing disturbs them.

You guys have no clue how lucky you are.

I had given up all hope of ever being able to find a “Nothing Box.” I remember as a small child deliberately trying to think about nothing. It didn’t work. A rogue thought would slip in through my thin defenses and I’d be thinking full-speed ahead again. I accepted this as an inevitable part of being a woman and moved on with my ever-churning brain, knowing that it won’t take a break until I die.

But just now, before I started writing this post, it happened. I thought about nothing. I stared at the blank Word document in front of me—and my mind was empty. Nothing happened in my brain for a full ten seconds.

It was surreal. I couldn’t have told you what a computer was. I forgot my name, that I was in college, what classes I’m in, what’s due tomorrow—everything was gone. Did I panic? No. I swam in the chill blankness for those ten seconds and enjoyed it.

Then I shook myself awake and started writing. Looking back over this post, I like what I see. Maybe my brain just needed to close its eyes for a few seconds.

Maybe I do.


2 responses »

  1. I actually need a nothing time for a few minutes every day. I often have a nothing time on my way home from school. . . walking home is just so autopilot now that I even look for cars automatically. . . and think about absolutely nothing. Brains do need a break, every bit as much as bodies need a break. Hooray for nothing time!

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