Working Hard for Indolence
We’re taught that indolence, if not an outright sin, is an unattractive quality that ambitious strivers should abhor. The byproduct of laziness — i.e., nothing — doesn’t enrich the world in any way, whereas effort and action, even when fruitless or irrelevant, keeps the turbines of consumption pumping.
Work: good. Indolence: bad.
Yet, for many of us, the goal of work is to have the luxury of doing nothing. Indeed, several advertising campaigns for things like cruise ships and hotel resorts promote the (high-priced) option of complete inactivity. The implication is, “You’ve worked hard; you deserve a break; go ahead, take a nap on the beach.” The paradox of luxury is that, unless you’re an heiress, to reach this exalted state of leisure you must sacrifice sleep, quiet reflection, and, yes, leisure. Only then may you enjoy your leisure.
Which makes us wonder: If the luxury of doing nothing is so great, why don’t we all generally do less?
Why don’t we celebrate those who have figured out how to accomplish nothing — unambitious bums and drunks, for instance — while the rest of society buzzes around madly, like a hive of drones?
We congratulate those who went on vacation and accomplished nothing. We deride those who dedicate their “working life” to the same goal. Perhaps those who do as little as possible are the ones we ought to be admiring.