Where I used to lived was an excellent spot for taking it easy. Away from the bustling city, shade trees all around, clean air with the serenity of a sparsely populated neighborhood. We have a picturesque view of the Sierra Madre mountains to the east, a nice view of a fairway to the north and and we have a neat front porch to sit and idle the day away. I must have spent a lot of time warming a chair on that porch more than my whole length of stay in business school.
Bumming around, wasting time. What was I thinking then surely wasn’t about money, work or the complex world. And surely I wasn’t being blue. There are much more important issues to ponder: the spear of summer grass, poems, sunsets, bluish mountains, Thoreau. A friend or two would come along and talk about nothing, play the guitar or simply idle in silence. The day would pass and on to the next and it’s the same thing everytime. Blame it on the tranquilizing ambiance.
The old folks, they would relentlessly insist about doing something more productive, while the busy passersby would give a discerning eye to the idler and his so many wasted hours. Well I do believe that society has its points and objections and looking back now I can only express a bit of remorse for those inactive years.
Until I got a hold of this piece by Bernardo Stuart titled The Fine Art of Loafing. A fascinating essay that tackles the divinity of loafing and the importance of an ample amount of idleness in one’s life. (My justification perhaps) Let me share some of this slacker’s points to this hyperactive world:
- There should be leisure, a generous amount of loafing in one’s lifetime, and the thought of being branded indolent should not dissuade anyone from living a full life.
- The ant is not the paragon of all virtues that man would do well to follow. The failure and corruption of human society is due to our ant-like persistence in piling up the materials of the world. To be reduced to the function of an ant would be about the unhappiest lot that a man could fall into. Loafing is something the ant never would know.
- Loafing is a fine art. There is something in it than mere aversion to work. It may be the source and fountain-head of all wisdom. (Mark that the most popular melodies and the best in art and literature were composed in an atmosphere of unhurried living)
- Man does not live by bread alone. Jesus Christ was a loafer. He took to the hills for forty days with no more practical purpose than to loaf and chasten his soul when he was tempted by attractive offers of material advancement.
- Mohammed was a loafer. When faced with the hardships of being a camel driver, he began to daydream about an earthly paradise, and the oppressed, heavy-laden, bruised and beaten humanity looked up to him and saw the prospects of a better world.
- Diogenes’ plain living and high thinking is due to his early devotion and practice of the fine art of loafing.
- The loafer is a much finer specimen than the lazy man. His life is a work of art, a pattern that may reach perfection better than any other.
- Money and possessions impose an obligation which is not conducive to serenity of mind. There is no better cure for the pent-up city dweller, the victim of hypertension, the drudge and the hack than to eat the bread of idleness.
Blaise Pascal, contemplating on the greatness and the misery of man, wrote in his Pensees: “All man’s troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room. “