August 1, 2012
A few people sent this article to me over the past month and it certainly got me thinking. Though the tone of the piece initially comes across as slightly harsh (the writer acknowledges that his role is to be ”a bad influence” of sorts), where he ends up is quite profound and moving.
“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
First, I have to acknowledge that many people do not have luxury of embracing idleness or the privilege of a leisurely work schedule. That being said, I think the article is getting at something different, and deeper, that has to do with the way we tend to run ourselves ragged.
The writer argues that our addiction to busyness is “a hedge against emptiness”. Busyness keeps at bay the existential questions of life’s meaning that can plague us. I would add that busyness can also be a hedge against unworthiness. It seems to me that, for most of us, the standard response to taking the day off, hanging out around the house, or not getting something “accomplished” is guilt. We tend to feel badly about ourselves if we are not functioning at 100% productivity. Though many of us might daydream of the writer’s relaxed schedule (work in the morning, exercising/errands in the afternoons, evenings free for friends, movies and whatnot) I wonder how many of us would actually be able to embrace that? Perhaps we would feel bored, but underneath the boredom would we feel embarrassed or even ashamed for not “doing” more?
Here is a link to the article. Please feel free to share your thoughts!