“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. 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.” - Tim Kreider
A friend of mine sent me this article as we were discussing my unemployment, as well as his (overfilled) full-time employment. And obviously, it struck a chord to both of us. I mean, we often hear that Americans are overworked, and have some of the worst work-life balances compared to any other country. This is common knowledge.
Kreider argues that not all of us wants to live this way, to be so busy that we utilize our complaints as boasts- it’s something we’ve forced each other to become. I mean, who hasn’t secretly (or not so secretly) hated on the classmate that has finished all their assignments ahead of time? At college, people seemed to clock in their library hours with a sense of pride, along with their self-proclaimed “misery.” I for one, am guilty of writing off other people’s “busyness” because, you know, they didn’t dance as much or have evening rehearsals every night that ran until 1am and THEN had to start their assignments for the next day, ughhh,.. etc, etc. Yeah, it got ugly sometimes.
But now. Now: I’m spending my days reading (!) for pleasure (!!!), taking yoga classes each day, snacking constantly, and catching up with friends. I’m writing long emails, writing handwritten letters, and sending care packages to people I miss. And I’m still trying to figure out how to feel okay about this idle time. But I like Kreider’s optimism, or rather, morbidity, when he talks about his deathbed. I too, subscribe to the belief that the only thing I’ll regret is not spending enough time with the people I care about, and making sure that they know that I care about them. Sappy, I know- but it beats beats the idea of being “useless” :P