Idleness as a political act
We’re the busy-bees of this busy-age.
Between work, commutes, home chores, child-care, taxes and health — who has the time? The week tires us enough to use weekends for recovery. It’s time for mall-hopping, window shopping and watching second-hand depictions of life on TV. Meanwhile, ads sneak up and nudge us on — towards MORE.
Weeks turn into months and months into years. Apart from a few celebrations, holidays and emergencies, life goes on as usual. The “system” keeps using our energy to run itself, and we keep feeding off of it. We keep staying busy (or getting busier).
Often, our work means that many others will have to work as hard as us or harder.
In any competitive environment colleagues have to work extra to just ‘keep up.’ This would cover most institutions like corporations and academia.
Next, you will have to work even more to sell your labour or product. Someone will get seduced to buy it with their labour (money).
Then, your labor will give you extra purchasing power. You’ll take it to the market. Here, someone else will work to produce something you want to buy.
Here’s a thought experiment — imagine you start working twice as hard. Around you this sets off a ripple of hard work. Your colleagues, your customers and the people you buy from, all have to step up. All get busier.
This wouldn’t be all that bad if you’d love your work. But most people don’t particularly enjoy their jobs — unless they are paid to do them (there are a handful of exceptions including artists, social workers, scientists).
What if you stop responding to the constant push for ‘more?’ What if you choose to be idle?
In this idleness, you step away from the treadmill to watch the circus of what is unfolding. You stop participating in it, even if momentarily.
You make love and art, have coffee and conversations. You come alive to enjoy life in deeper ways.
You start to unplug deeply held stories of ‘hardwork,’ ‘security’ and ‘success.’
You start seeing the mess we have made, and your participation in it. You wonder about your life choices and priorities.
You create some ease in the world. You de-energize the ‘system’ a bit. You allow others to breath a little more easy.
You give yourself a fighting chance to escape.
In today’s over-excited, hyper-worked, super-sexualized world, conscious idleness is a revolutionary, even political act.