An Apology For Idlers


NOTE: This was originally written July 19th, 2008. It sucks to read it and know I’ve done nothing since writing this.

A dear friend of mine gave me three books as a gift before moving to Austin. I take to reading as a fish to sky-diving, which is odd considering how much I write.

These books, like many others would surely find shelves or a box for which to reside the rest of my existence, but a friend gave them to me so I gave them the respect they deserve and placed them by the toilet. Even then I rarely pick them up as I much prefer to shit and run. Call me crazy, but I don’t care to smell it any more than anyone else. Tonight however I picked up one of them for a brief moment and opened to a page and read a few lines.

Tonight is a Friday like many others. I find myself sitting on my patio, drinking beer, enjoying a cheaper cigar than I prefer. One thing occurred to me while half-assing a new song in the hotness of the late July air. I am afraid of commitment in all aspects of my life. Lately I have made some real big headway with my musical quest and I find myself at a crossroads simply not knowing how to take the step down the road of what a vast majority of us call accomplishment, including myself.

Tonight I became very afraid. Of what I am not sure yet, but I do have some ideas. Part of me explains it as so. I am afraid I cannot work hard enough to achieve the things I believe I am on this planet to do. I was born an innate slacker and I am afraid to break that chain because that will mean I have to actually really work and try.

Since taking this great leap of determination I find little familiarity to grab hold of on my way down. As a result, I have found most of my time to be spent in leisure rather than in white-knuckled work and only recently have I found some tiny strength to push forward. I don’t like to work, it is boring, it is hard and it is work. I cringe at the fact I have the audacity to call it work, but it is a lot more work than most would believe.

I have long envied people like my Uncle Charlie. He seems to work so hard and seems to accomplish great things and he appears to like it that way. He likes to work constantly and likes to stay in positions that constantly push his limits.

There is a dark side to that life, but I will refrain from believing I know the details of it. I would prefer to speak on it more after I speak with my Uncle about it in the coming week as I visit him in Mexico.

To be what I desire I must find my way across this large chasm that causes me to shake in fear as I gape over it. I must also keep a tight grip on the people I love and make sure I never place them more than an arms length away.

I find a lot of guilt in my leisure. Someone asks me to go on a rafting trip at last minutes’ notice and even though I know I should chose to stay behind and work I always choose the leisure activity. I am afraid that if I can’t break that habit it will be my downfall. I have to believe there is a balance to be found, but maybe I am speaking in ignorance.

Tonight as I sit on the patio, my fear came down on me and put my stomach in knots which inevitably leads to a rush to the toilet and I picked up a book entitled “The Great Thoughts”, which is a book about the great thoughts and ideas that have shaped the history of the world. I opened to page 400 and read a quote by Robert Lewis (Balfour) Stevenson as reprinted in the “Virginibus Puerisque” in 1877. I have come to find that this reprint is fairly different from the original passage and I only know that because I searched for it online in hopes to copy and paste it rather than 4 finger-peck it, but I am out of luck.

An Apology for Idlers
By Robert Lewis (Balfour) Stevenson

Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized by the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has a good a right to state its position as industry itself. It is admitted that the presence of people who refuse to enter in the great handicap race for sixpenny pieces, is at once an insult and a disenchantment for those who do.

Books are good enough in their own way, but they are the mighty bloodless substitute for life.

And if a man reads very hard, as the old anecdote reminds us, he will have little time for thought.

Extreme busyness whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity.

As if a man’s soul were not too small to begin with, they have dwarfed and narrowed theirs by a life of all work and no play; until here they are at forty, with a listless attention, a mind vacant of all material of amusement, and not one thought to rub against another, while they wait for the train.

Look at one of your industrious fellows for a moment. He sows hurry and reaps indigestion; he puts a vast deal of activity out of interest, and receives a large measure of nervous derangement in return….I do not care how much or how well he works, this fellow is an evil feature in other people’s lives. They would be happier if he were dead….He poisons life at the well-head. it is better to be beggared out of hand by a scapegrace nephew, than daily hag-ridden by a peevish uncle.

There is no duty we underrate so much as the duty of being happy.

I find a lot of wisdom and truth in this passage. Some of it applies to what I have touched on tonight and some would require a great deal more typing than I care to do at this hour of the morning.

What my mind settles on as I head off to bed is this. I have not gone to see my Grandmother, step-dad or sister in several months. That makes me disappointed in myself. I have not “really” spent time with some of my closest friends over that same span of time. I do not care for that because I truly live for family and friendship. It is really all that is important to me and I do not intend to lose sight of that. I am very distraught internally over it because it feels more like I am fading away from them rather than them fading away from me and that brings with it guilt.

I tried to find some solace in creating a website of memories with friends to share with them and it seems to be met with little interest. Though I believe most of their silence is due to their sadness. My mind always put things in the worst category available, so right now their silence resides in disinterest of me.

Maybe all this alone time works entirely against me. Maybe love is in order. Maybe all this will be gibberish when I awake tomorrow afternoon, because maybe I am just drunk.

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