Defending The Indefensible: Laziness
IN DEFENCE OF LAZINESS
“Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or marker is a symptom of deficient vitality….there is a sort of dead alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation….they have no curiosity They cannot give themselves over to random provocations:they do not take pleasure in the exercise of their faculties for its own sake: and unless necessity lays about them with a stick, they will even stand still. It is no good speaking to such folk ”
Robert Louis Stephenson
“Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good
‘Arbeit Macht Frei’
I recently read that America has a 15 billion dollar weight loss industry. Despite the amount of money going around in these innumerable weight loss programmes, 97% of cases end in failure. 97% of people quit the programme they started. In some cases other things take over and you simply don’t have the time to carry on with what you started but the majority quit because they simply can’t be arsed.
With this in mind it begs the question of why do so many people start something that they are highly unlikely to finish? In some cases weight loss is of absolute importance due to health issues but for most the shredding of a few stone is all that they crave. Yet still this is not achieved. Or it is achieved and then is soon put back on again because the thought of going to the gym instead of the pub suddenly seems like a ludicrous idea. We as people are generally happier sat around a table talking about nothing than than running nowhere on a treadmill and sweating like Nick Griffin in an Indian restaurant (That’s a poor joke but one that works on TWO levels which more than makes up for the quality of the joke itself which is undoubtedly very poor). It’s not hard to understand why people quit their exercise programmes. It’s a simple case of toil v leisure and most people would rather indulge in leisure than toil. It’s natural to want to relax instead of run just like it’s natural to want to sit in a pub rather than stand in one. So why do we feel so guilty for our inactivity?
It all comes down to the social belief that being busy is more of a virtue than idling around. You feel socially obliged to get up and do something with your time. If you tell someone that you’ve spent your week off work sitting on your couch, eating crisps and designing the ultimate Superhero, they will say you’ve wasted your week. This is because we as a nation have totally lost the ability to relax.
Its disturbing that man now sees himself as a worker first and foremost. When you go to a school reunion the first question you are asked is “Where do you work?”. You haven’t seen this person for 10 years and all he wants to know is where you are when you suffer the most. Why not ask “What music do you listen to these days?” or “What do you get up to at weekends?”, Something, anything, that may actually reveal something about YOU. Your essence, passions and hates.
The hard work ethic that has been indoctrinated into us has managed to triumph above all else. People now believe you don’t deserve to enjoy life unless you have earn’t it. You must work for your happiness. Tom Hodgkinson, the founder of the fantastic ‘The Idler’ magazine describes this mindset by saying -
- “you must be unhappy to be happy. The underlying idea behind this insanity is that you are infinitely undeserving – that reward, ie happiness, will always be contingent upon the endurance of some unpleasant activity.” -
A phrase often levelled at me is “You have too much spare time”. I think this is possibly the most unsuccessful insult of all time. How can you have too much spare time when spare time is all we live for? Spare time in life IS life. People say that they haven’t got enough time for things such as, you know, enjoying themselves but we all get the same amount of hours in a day. People choose not to use their time as they wish and then criticise those who do. When someone says to me “You have too much spare time” I genuinely take it as a compliment. I don’t see how it can be anything else. When people look forward to holidays from work they look forward to having spare time. Time to indulge in their hobbies, passions and thoughts. Spare time is the only time when we get a break from performing to please others and get to concentrate on pleasing ourselves (Not in the sense that we stimulate our own gentiles. Although if you wish to spend your time that way then knock yourself off). Unfortunately some people work so hard that they don’t even know their own mind and have no idea how to spend their spare time. They don’t know what they like or hate. They get bored on holidays because they have mentally committed suicide and turned into a machine. They don’t know how to relax because they don’t know who they are. They aren’t safe until they are back at work and don’t have to think for themselves.
Occupation has undoubtedly come to define people which is terribly, terribly depressing and is actually patronizing to an evolved, intelligent human being. Characterizing yourself by your job is de-humanising. Think of the people you know who take their work incredibly seriously. The likelihood is that they are bereft of any sort of personality. They have sold themselves in exchange for a big house. They have abandoned their personalty for a new car. They don’t have real friends as they never see them. They never see their family because they are totally committed to completing some meaningless task in the office. When people talk of ‘wasting your life’, I can not think of any group of people more deserving of this phrase than the ‘go getters’. Striving all their life to be comfortable and to one day not have to work so hard. Striving to one day relax. Striving all their life for something that they can gain by being idle and creative. Its no coincidence that the vast majority of career driven people are boring whilst the so called wasters are invariably interesting.
Idle hands and having time on those hands are when we truly live. When we truly understand ourselves and realise what’s going on in our own heads. The aimless days are the ones when you learn more about yourself above all others. These are the only times you truly realise your own thoughts. There are no obstacles interrupting your thought. There are no jobs to be done that will switch your mind back into the world of unreality. Your mind can only be the only true reality as we only find sense in anything because of it. The beauty of life is that we all have different minds and our own independent thoughts. The tragedy is that many never truly realise their own thoughts. The insistence to do something at all times prevents relaxation which in turn prevents genuine thought. People know more about their bosses than they do themselves.
Another quote that often comes my way is ‘grow up’. Why on earth would I want to grow up ? People always say the best days of their lives were as a child and yet they can’t wait to turn their back on their childhood. As an adult we become overcome by seriousness and the child like free nature that we once had is viewed as something we can’t get back. You can still be a child. A child is always looking for excitement and takes nothing serious. A child is happy. You can still be that child. Instead of worrying about the future and saving money in the hope that this mythical happy life will one day be yours, enjoy life today. People who say ‘grow up’ have given up. They have created a dystopia from the sands of paradise. “Its time to be responsible”. No it isn’t. Its never time to be responsible and become Dave Smith from Taplow (No offence to Dave Smith from Taplow). Most of us never decide what we want to do with our lives at all. We go from one relationship to another, one job to another, trying to win what’s never been won, trying to do what’s never been done. Just relax. Be idle. Be lazy. The idea that any work as long as it’s work is of moral benefit sits at odds with Civilization itself. Civilization truly developed when we stopped being hunter gatherers and started raising crops and livestock. The reason this change happened was because of the modern enemy. The enemy of Idle hands. When people had time to devote to their own passions they progressed to create what we today call civilization .
Some poor souls out there have to work two, sometimes three jobs earning minimum wage in all just provide food and shelter for themselves and their family. The book ‘Nickel and Dimed’ by Barbara Ehrenreich is a darkly humorous read into the life of low wage American workers and the treatment they receive from the hierarchy of society. She comments the low wage workers are reluctant to revolt as they are made to feel unworthy by their superiors and how saddening it is to see people take such pride in their jobs to such little recognition These poorly paid people work harder than anyone purely because they have to and yet their work invariably goes unnoticed, unappreciated and unconsidered. They are living proof that the mantra of ‘Keep your head down, work hard and you’ll reap the rewards’ simply isn’t true in all cases. Their employers strip of them of their own thoughts and civil liberties by refusing them permission to air their views or even speak at all on company time. They are made to feel that the dictatorship of huge company’s paying low wages is ‘just life’ and that they should feel privileged to have a job at all. This selfish brave new world world is shaped by social status but people should understand that the guilt and shame they may feel about having low aspirations in ‘working your way up the ladder’ is purely a personal state of mind. There is nothing at all wrong with treating work as simply something you have to do to be able to indulge in what you like. People too often change their own views of the world to suit societies in order to protect their self image. Most of us are in a position lucky enough where one job holds enough wages to fulfils our needs. The idea that you are lazy and unambitious for not wanting to stick to the familiar path of putting so many hours and so much toil into something purely in the hope that a wage increase that may make you slightly more comfortable or have a higher social status is ridiculous to me. None of it actually means anything if you don’t know how to enjoy your time away from unavoidable activities.
I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of WORK, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in the organised diminution of work.
In 1,000 years time you will be nothing. No-one will remember you. Your actions will have meant nothing. Take the liberty that a wonderfully pointless life gives you and learn how to relax. Learn how to be lazy. See being called a ‘bum’ as a compliment. Take pride in your lack of energy. Follow your own ideas and be be totally free from the constraints of social conformity. You will be the one on your death bed with no regrets whilst the others realize how futile their actions have been. People should understand that whilst life is ultimately pointless they are not. Every single person ever born has their own thoughts, passions and hates. They have a mind that is different to anyone else who has been before or since. That is an amazing thought. The only way to fully comprehend and enjoy your own thoughts is through leisure.
So stay in bed, don’t feel guilty about relaxing and be as lazy as you please. The workers will have you believe that they are doing things the right way but look at them. The stress, the inability to rest and the labour constantly cloaking the mind of it’s wonderful possibilities. People take two week holidays and do nothing. You can do nothing more than you realise. You don’t need to wait for a holiday. Hobbies and interests are formed through laziness.Having hobbies and interests are key to a happy life. Much more so than having money and not knowing what to do with it. Relaxing and laziness is a positive state of mind. If you look at any thesaurus you’ll find that the antonyms to the words work and labour are fun and entertainment. A lazy life is a life of pleasure
Written By Jim Haginson
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