A Touch of Idleness

Modern society often associates idleness as an undesirable and negative trait. We imagine an idle person as someone who is lazy and unproductive, being nothing more than deadweight for society. We have presumptions that if someone is idle, and not generating any value, they are somewhat a failure.

But note the opposite, someone who has constantly worked and ended up causing detrimental results to society. Consider the endeavors of Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor in early 19th century France. Due to the campaigning of the Grande Armée, against almost every European superpower, the French population and economy was devastated for years. If only somebody told Napoleon to take a vacation and be idle. There are many examples of people who seem to have been overly ambitious and caused more harm than value; the world might have been a much better place if only they were idle. If we accept people who do more harm than good, why can’t we accept people who simply do nothing?

We’ve all felt the guilt of being idle. We are wired to believe that unless we are on a continuous search for things to do, we are wasting time. We are always striving to achieve the next big goal, or to come up with the next grand idea. But being idle is not the same as wasting time. We must understand that idleness is equally as important as working. It is in times of idleness that we begin to seriously think about our lives. There are many questions in life that we cannot answer in haste. We need periods of idleness in which we simply appreciate and understand ourselves; and then can we truly learn to best enjoy our limited time on Earth.


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