In Praise of Idleness

Sometimes it’s good to speak of trivial things, to leave the grim and urgent decisions to languish for a while. It’s good to discuss the relative merits of one particular brand of baking powder over another, or whether that particular goal shouldn’t have been ruled offside. While these concerns may be dismissed as distractions, as though there were something inherently bad about that, I think I would prefer to praise them as distractions, a way of finding valuable breathing space amidst the crushing pressures of those important decisions we know we have to face. And although those decisions will still have to be made, and perhaps will become that little more pressing for our inaction, we can return to them refreshed, having found that tiny bit of extra strength and resolve through our inactivity.

Sometimes it’s good, too, to pass some time in lethargy and sloth. To turn one’s back upon the umpteenth task that should be done, to join the Mole in The Wind in the Willows and throw one’s brush down upon the floor and exclaim ‘Bother!’ and ‘O blow!’ and ‘Hang spring-cleaning!’ and bolt outdoors and find the sun and end up lying in the grass listening to the birdsong.

Sometimes it’s good to refuse to enter into competition with the world, to refuse to join the race to become ‘The Best’ at everything we choose or are compelled to do. For what does it matter if we are not the best?

Sometimes it’s good to just say ‘No’.

I sometimes wonder whether it would be good to do this all the time.

35 thoughts on “In Praise of Idleness

  1. It’s funny Mick, that so often things fall into place when we step aside and stop meddling. Our urge to control seems often to be misplaced. That said, a sense of purpose is a healthy thing, so I guess it’s a question of balance?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m all for occasional withdrawal — after all, I spend a goodly portion of my time just wandering around, camera in hand. But disengagement and sloth seem to me two different things, and the very last thing in the world I’d want to be is slothful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I think there’s always a place for sloth. There are times when, regardless of tasks queueing up for attention or people clamouring for something or other my reaction is going to be ‘no, not today. I really can’t be bothered and I’m going to do nothing more strenuous than read a book, go for a walk and have a beer’. It has to be done occasionally.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so right … sometimes we need to just step back and … breathe. See the world, take in nature, breathe the air and clear our minds, even if only for a short time. It’s not selfish, but helps us recharge so we can get back to the work at hand. Thanks for reminding me, for this is something I too often forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So right Mick. Life can be so serious and stressful a lot of time so it’s great to step back and say ‘I’m not bothered about any of this’ and just float around with no reason or direction for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

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