A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quitting the Paint Factory

I read a fabulous essay this morning, it's actually a reprint from 2004, from Harper's magazine by Mark Slouka, and thought I'd pass it along for everyone to enjoy. Here's the link. I always enjoy cerebral justifications for my semi-retired lifestyle, and pieces like this really resonate with me, not because it justifies laziness, but because it validates my urgent need for regular time for quiet introspection.

There's also some interesting dicsussion of the perceived differences between leisure and idleness. Leisure being activity which is directed in pursuit of a goal - fishing, golfing, sailing, and idleness is directed in pursuit of doing nothing - resting, reading, thinking, or just sitting there doing nothing. Naturally you can guess which of these society deems morally good, and which is morally bad. "Idles hands are ___ (fill in the blank on this one, but it won't be a positive reference)".

Here's a quick passage from the piece that I'll leave you with:

Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, req­uisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idle­ness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil. Not for nothing did our mothers grow suspicious when we had “too much time on our hands.” They knew we might be up to something. And not for nothing did we whisper to each other, when we were up to something, “Quick, look busy."

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