I’ve noticed that among my friends the single most common complaint is one of busyness. And more broadly in the cultural conversation there is talk of burnout (see Millennial burnout), work-life (im)balance, and so on. Yet talk of non-busyness, or recreation, or nondoing is still a fringe idea, and one that seems to make people very uncomfortable. And so I thought, what if nondoing was considered a life-threatening emergency?
The following sketch (really much too long for a sketch) was written for a friend’s sketch comedy group. For my EMT characters, I spoke to a friend of mine who is a volunteer firefighter on Orcas. In satire, realism=comedy.
The sketch was not selected and so I publish it here. Enjoy, or ham-sa.
Code Mantra (Draft 1)
By Evan Wagoner-Lynch
LILY – F. young urban professional. Our meditator.
ZACK – M. Good samaritan 1. Young professional completely unprepared for emergency. Anxious type.
SAM – F. Good samaritan 2. Tim Ferriss style 10xer. Wearing workout clothes like she just left a crossfit class.
GARCIA – M/F EMT type first responder. Very professional, business-like. Senior of the two.
JACKSON – M/F. EMT Type first responder. Very professional, business-like. Junior.
ONLOOKERS. Optional. Horrified, gawking, instagramming
DISPATCH off stage or recorded voice heard through radio filter or actual radio.
A sidewalk. SOUND CUE – City noise. LILY walks on stage, as if on break from an office job. Center stage she sits down cross-legged, takes her iphone out of her pocket and lays it next to her. She begins meditating. Moments later ZACK walks on stage and spots LILY. He runs over to LILY.
Are you okay?
Beat as LILY comes out of a pleasant meditative state.
Yes, thank you.
Are you sure you’re okay? What are you doing?
I’m not really doing anything.
Zack (very alarmed)
What do you mean? Don’t you have a job? Don’t you have to be somewhere?
I am somewhere. I’m right here.
LILY resumes meditating.
Oh my god. (yelling to audience) Help! Help! Someone is just sitting here!
SAM runs purposefully on stage.
What’s going on here?
She’s…not doing *ANYTHING.*
Ok, what’s your name?
Ok Zack I need you call 9-11. Tell them you have found someone nonproductive on the sidewalk, do you understand?
Oh god. Ok.
ZACK gets on phone. He stands off to the side and we can’t quite hear his very serious conversation with 9-11 emergency. SAM now gets in close to LILY and begins speaking to her in a clear, concerned tone.
Ok, miss, what’s your Instagram?
LILY (again coming out of a pleasant meditative state)
Oh I don’t really do that. You can call me Lily though.
Ok Lily. My name is Sam, I am certified in life coaching. We’re going to get you some help, okay?
That’s kind of you. (back to meditating)
Lily? Lily! Can you hear me? When’s the last time you texted? I need you to get with it, alright? There’s things to do. Lily? Back to work okay? (to ZACK, urgently) Zack, tell them she’s not responding, and she appears to be meditating.
ZACK (on phone)
Oh god, she’s meditating, please hurry! What? Ok, ok. (to SAM) They’re saying to get out her phone.
(to ZACK) On it. (to LILY) Lily: I need you remain awake and multitasking alright? I am turning on your phone. We’re going to get you back to work in no time. Lily, what’s your password? Lily? What is your password?
Oh my god, what if she’s late work? She could be missing a meeting! An all-hands meeting!.
We hear AMBULANCE SIRENS, OPT. RED STROBE CUE, GARCIA enters with clipboard followed by JACKSON with CLIPBOARD and JUMP BAG (duffle bag full of emergency equipment. Both are dressed in matching jumpsuits (orange? red?), black shoes, nitrile gloves, radios. They immediately go to LILY and get to work. JACKSON takes LILY’s pulse, enters notation on CLIPBOARD. Then he takes phone charger, various cords, out of JUMP BAG. They are calm, professional, authoritative throughout. They’ve done this hundreds of times.
Ok they’re here. Ok.
ZACK hangs up phone.
JACKSON (to RADIO)
Dispatch this is Prodo 21. On scene at 404 Sansome for unproductive female over.
Copy Prodo 21. On scene at 404 Sansome for unproductive female.
JACKSON (to GARCIA)
Garcia, I’ll start on the phone.
JACKSON plugs charge cord into phone, connects portable charger. He removes nitrile glove from his hand so he can use the touch screen.
GARCIA (to SAM and ZACK)
Anyone know her on Instagram?
I don’t think she has an Instagram. But her name is Lily.
OK how long has Lily been meditating?
About five minutes. I tried some emergency distractions but she’s nonresponsive, nondoing.
Great, thank you. We’ll take it from here.
Battery at 9 percent, initiating charge. (beat) Charging.
What if she’s missing a yoga class?
Don’t worry Zack, these people are professionals.
GARCIA (to Lily)
Lily? When’s the last time you texted?
LILY (coming out of pleasant meditate state)
I don’t remember…maybe this morning?
Was it 11 o clock, 10 o clock? Was it after breakfast? This is important. Whatever you’re doing you can just interrupt it alright?
LILY takes a deep breath and resumes meditating
Lily, I need you to stop meditating for me okay? There’s like a million things you should be doing, do you hear me? What’s on your to-do list? Lily? Do you have any work deadlines? (to Jackson) Patient is nonproductive and nonresponsive.
ZACK (to SAM)
What’s happening, is she gonna be okay?
Don’t worry, these are Emergency Life Coaches. They’re trying to get her to multitask so she can be a functioning member of society.
Lily, can you tell me your password? Lily? I need your phone password ok? (beat) Patient is nonresponsive, initiating Touch ID.
JACKSON takes LILYs right hand and begins trying each one of her fingers one at a time. Then she takes LILYS left hand. Eventually she gets in.
GARCIA (reading from a laminated, color coded card on her clipboard. As she runs through questions, she checks them off her card)
Escalating to level 2. Lily, did you hear about that thing in the news today? That bad thing? Why don’t you think about how it could effect you? Isn’t that scary? Lily?
JACKSON gets very close to LILY so they can both see the phone screen.
Ok Lily I need you to stop thinking about a sense of spaciousness and peace and open your eyes, okay?
LILY slowly opens her eyes and looks at her phone. JACKSON scrolls through her phone showing her things.
Lily, why don’t we check your Facebook? Yeah, looks like it’s been a couple days. Looks like your cousin Mike has a conspiracy theory to share. Yeah maybe the New York Times *is* inventing climate change. You know, Lily, I think it’s really important you weigh in on this.
LILY almost starts to talk but then she takes a deep breath and resume meditating.
Lily? Lily! Pay attention to this, it’s more important than meditating. Why don’t we send a Snapchat. We could make a silly picture of your face? Why don’t we Snapchat about meditating, that seems harmless, right? (LILY takes a deep breath and closes her eyes again) Lily? Lily! Patient is nonresponsive to digital device.
Let’s press her.
JACKSON pulls an AEROPRESS and associated accessories including GROUND ESPRESSO, SCOOP, HOT WATER BOTTLE, SMALL ESPRESSO CUP from JUMP BAG.
I don’t understand, why is she is still meditating.
I dunno, usually the phone works. She might be one of those hardcore meditators.
Oh man, I bet she goes to those retreats.
Dispatch this is Prodo-21. We are initiating Aeropress on unproductive female.
Costa Rican single origin?
Too acidic. Rwandan estate….20, 25 CCs.
JACKSON works on the perfect Aeropress shot, see YouTube for details.
Prodo-21 this is dispatch. Copy initiating Aeropress on unproductive female.
Do you guys need sugar or anything.
GARCIA and JACKSON give him a look and continue their work.
Ah, right. Single origin. (to ZACK) Very professional.
GARCIA pulls a FEATHER out of the JUMP BAG and tickles LILY on the neck with it.
Hey Lily there’s a big mosquito on your neck okay?
LILY rouses and swats at her neck. GARCIA discards the first list on his clipboard, revealing a second color coded checklist.
Great, ok, Lily? I need you to stop meditating for me okay? We’re making you some single origin espresso? Ok? It’s gonna make you a little amped up, a little bit anxious, alright? Then you’re gonna need to go to the bathroom.
LILY starts to close her eyes.
Lily don’t start meditating alright? I want you to stop thinking about the endless cycle of your breath and I want you to focus on these random questions I’m gonna ask you okay? I really want you to get caught up with them alright? Lily has anyone ever done something really crappy to you? Maybe a coworker or a romantic partner?
LILY (snapping out of her trance)
Ugh, Tanya is the worst.
Yeah, let’s talk about Tanya. Why don’t you compose the perfect email to her, right now, in your mind, just letting her know exactly how you feel okay?
LILY takes a few deep breaths and, with difficulty, resumes meditating.
Lily? Don’t start meditating. Remember Tanya. She’s still out there somewhere, and she’s not sorry. Lily?
JACKSON hands GARCIA a perfectly pulled espresso shot.
25 cc’s Rwandan.
GARCIA wafts it under LILY’s nose.
Mmm, I smell…is that Rwandan single origin?
JACKSON (exaggerated, playing good-cop bad cop for LILY)
I dunno, It’s starting to cool off. We should probably just throw it out.
Oh, don’t throw it away.
Guess you better drink it.
LILY drinks the coffee.
SAM (to ZACK)
Wow, these guys are good. I think they got her.
Oh I can’t watch.
GARCIA (adopting buddy-buddy tone)
You know Lily… you ever feel like meditating is kind of, I dunno, self-indulgent.
What you do mean?
Yeah like with all the bad stuff going on.
I mean yeah, that climate change stuff is real.
I know, I keep getting these emails and they’re like ‘do something before it’s too late!’
I mean, Lily, not to be like, ‘judgie,’ but I dunno, it seems a little selfish, I guess, to just kind of sit there.
Yeah, or like privileged or something.
LILY (sipping her coffee)
Hmm, yeah, I struggle with that a lot. (beat, pondering) I mean, there are a lot of things I *could* be doing right now.
Yeah, maybe like a whole list of things?
Yeah, like a, what do you call it, a to-do list?
Oh yes, they got her.
Hey you know what, let’s start writing one.
I think that’s a good idea..After I finish meditating. Because I don’t think we can help others effectively until we help ourselves. (Takes a deep breath, closing her eyes) Ham-sa.
Lily stay with us, don’t meditate!
LILY continues quietly saying Ham (in breath) Sa (out breath) for remainder of sketch.
What is that, Sanskrit?
(sighing, defeated) Yes. Ham-sa. ‘I am that.’
I’ll call it in. (to Radio) Dispatch this Prodo-21, we are upgrading code over.
I am that? What does that mean?
Umm yeah, it’s a mantra. It’s supposed to mean like, I am..the universe?
ZACK (absorbing this)
Prodo-21 this is dispatch go ahead.
Unproductive female is nonresponsive to aeropress and in deep meditation with mantra. Tone out for advanced life coaching.
…how can I be the Universe.. I think I need to…Think about it. A lot.
Uhh, Zack, are you okay?
ZACK sits down.
I’m so…present…I’m just gonna meditate for a second.
SAM (urgently, to EPTs)
Uh guys, we have another one.
GARCIA (to Jackson)
JACKSON runs over to ZACK and checks his pulse.
JACKSON (to Zack)
Hey buddy? What’s your Instagram? When’s the last time you texted? Buddy?
(ZACK closes his eyes and continues to say the mantra for remainder of sketch)
JACKSON (to GARCIA, urgently)
Garcia, he’s code mantra.
..wait, but if I am that, then what is all *this* (gestures vaguely around himself)
SAM sits down and begins meditating with the mantra.
We got another one!
(to RADIO) Dispatch this is Prodo-21. Code 5, code 5, we have multiple code mantras at 404 Sansome. Tone out for advanced life coaching.
This is dispatch, standby for tone. [Beat, then ELECTRONIC TONE] Requesting ALC to 404 Sansome for multiple code mantras. Repeat all units, this is dispatch.. (fading out)
GARCIA (simultaneous to above)
Hey, miss? What’s your Instagram okay? Don’t start meditating, alright?