Saturday, July 30, 2005

In search of idleness

One really difficult thing to do in this life is simply doing nothing. There's this ever-present urge to do something just to keep oneself busy. There is really no such thing as “rest” for so many of us today. Given those few hours or days off from work, we’ll be straining our brains thinking of another activity which can take the place of those stressful routines at our jobs. Whether it’s watching television, reading a book, cleaning the house, doing the “zombie-walk” in the malls, chatting with somebody, or composing an entry for one’s blog, we always manage to come out with something to fill up our free time. For some, even restful sleeps are becoming more and more rare. The neurotic types among us often find something to work on in-between those well-planned tasks which are all performed with amazing speed and efficiency.

Perhaps it has to do with our desire for immortality. Life is so short, and everybody seems to be in a rush to accomplish a lot of great things before time runs out. Or maybe there is some truth to the view that people realize their potentials only in meaningful work. “Being productive” has always been a favorite mantra for those of us who have been molded in the activist tradition back in the universities. For society as a whole, “productivity” often came with a huge cost: a degraded environment, an unimaginable gulf between the rich and the poor, and an unexamined existence. But there are those who have spent some of their time trying to be idle. They have learned to take note of the blades of grass under their feet, of the noise that birds make in the morning, and of the rhythm created by their own breathing. They are slowly discovering what it means to wallow in the infinite moment and savor its boundless beauty.

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