There are strange associations with the word ‘lazy’. There is something shameful about it, in the classic, irreligious way. There is also something funny about it, like, “I know I am a loser because I am lazy and yet, it’s kinda cool.” Anyone who has ever done anything of use, socially or anti-socially (for being anti-social also requires a lot of effort), will say that laziness is all-around bad. Few minds, great ones at that, have tried to redeem it, even raise it to the status of something that does more for mankind than doing ever does. But, even as I have believed these select superiors wholeheartedly, and espoused their opinions as if it were The Word, I have had a reversal of intergalactic proportions lately. As we approach the end of 2014, I declare, I no longer think being lazy is good.
I have never been lazy, per se. Unfocused, maybe. Naive and over-passionate, probably. Idealistic, in all likelihood. But, how I wish I had been lazy. How I wish I had the ability to stop and smell the roses, and do just that. Instead, I smell the roses, look through the corner of my eye towards the building nearby, listen to the airplane in the sky, and peripherally watch the old lady across the road quarrel with the mailman. I am an infinitely unskilled Renaissance man who, besides not being a man, is also incapable of remembering all that she finds curious. Also, I am fated, or by my innate sense of nonconformity, to never be curious, let alone remember, things that are good for me. You know, things that pertain to careers and relationships.
A while ago, I wrote a post exploring procrastination, where I still obeyed the masters and said there was some use to not doing what you are supposed to be doing after all. It did quite well, but it was not the first of its kind from yours truly. At age 20, I stumbled upon the positive literature regarding procrastination/laziness/idleness. With the likes of Bertrand Russell writing In Praise of Idleness, and my blogging hero Francis Bacon writing these words, “To spend too much time in studies is sloth;” I found what I didn’t even know I was looking for. For too long, I had been busy, doing too many things. I have moved a few times in my life, have always had to commute long distances, and have always been involved with too many activities. Being still was something I had never known. So, I began my own revolution, but it did not end in success. I wrote an essay (back when I could write essays with titles that did not begin with an Of), but a big opportunity came along and my love affair with doing nothing did not begin. It finally did when I became unemployed.
The biggest misconception about the unemployed is thinking they do not work. Here is the truth: They do, they just don’t get paid. I half-enjoyed being unemployed for a month. I went on holiday, got a few things done, and enjoyed the state of not panicking while unoccupied. It was a brief period, and that lazy state of mind is nothing compared to the vast sea of despair, confusion and total loss of confidence when it came to knowing that yes, unemployment, as in not doing something you get paid for, was happening.
Was I lazy now? Was I confused? Was I rejected by the cruel systems of society, who pointed at me and laughed at the pinhead who was unfit for its insurances and dearness allowances? Or was it what classical antiquity used to explain everything – Fate? All the time I had, I wish I was lazy. Or maybe, what I was, was lazy. Lazy, as not a state of creativity, of exploring endless potentials of your self, of slowing down and observing what existence has to offer, instead of bowing your head and moving from goal-post to goal-post as a tiny, unhinged, senseless atom. This lazy was when the brain rotted in its state of hopeless uselessness, the body aged and the heart kept beating, truly senseless of the poetry contained in the ones of others who worked on the daily. I looked back and wondered, how did I get so much done before? In wanting to live differently, had I stopped living at all? When you are being lazy and not enjoying it, nothing excites you more than mundane jobs. I absorbed so many albums as I would clean my flat. While it gave me purpose, it also left my brain free to wander and absorb whatever it wanted to.
And mundane purpose ended my love affair with laziness. We broke up, realizing we wanted different things. While he wanted to smell the roses, I wanted to go back to doing everything. I wanted to wake up early in the morning, feeling groggy. I wanted to swear at the traffic during rush-hour. I wanted to sit at a computer and get CVS. I wanted to have a context, to be around people, to have realities I cannot predict or control. Most of all, I wanted to lose the vanity/idealism, that I will live my life differently from the rest of the world. Laziness, I broke up with you because I wanted to live life deliberately.