The Thanksgiving Advent Calendar, Day Nineteen: Being Busy (and Lazy)
I like to say I’m a lazy person, because I think I am: I’m a big fan of the principle of least effort for maximum effect. Some call that efficiency, but I think efficiency is frequently born of laziness, as in, oh God I don’t want to do this how can I do it so it’s over with and I can get back to shooting zombies? So, yeah: lazy.
At the same time, however, I like to be busy. Really busy. As in, I like looking over the next few years of my life and saying I know what I’ll being doing all this time. Right now I look at my life through 2014 and I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be writing, where I’ll be going, and how I’ll be spending my days. In fact I have quite a bit planned.
The question becomes how I square my impulse toward laziness with my desire to be busy all the time. I don’t think it’s actually that hard to do and in fact I think one feeds into the other. I know why I like to be busy: One, I get bored easily. Two, without going into great detail about it, having grown up on an economic yo-yo that alternated me between material comfort and depressing poverty, I’m a big believer in understanding that nothing lasts forever, at least not without a whole stack of planning. I’m doing well right now; I don’t have any faith that state of affairs will last. Being busy is a nice hedge.
Being lazy helps keep me busy because being lazy has taught me to, as much as possible, find the easiest way to deal with any single task, so I have time left to a) do other things, b) do nothing at all. Doing b) is actually important, since if I do too much of a) without it I become cranky and short-tempered and annoying and not a nice person to be around, and I work less efficiently, which is no good. So if I want to be busy, and I do, it’s not going to get done without also being lazy.
I like that almost-contradiction, the idea that the human quality least associated with industry is the one I think allows me to be as industrious as I am. I also like the idea that what many people would slot as a character flaw fuels what is generally seen as a laudable character trait. I think it points out the ying and yang of who I am and why I need both of these things to function. It also means that when my wife once told me “You are a man too lazy to fail,” I was deeply pleased, because it meant that she actually understood me. And would probably let continue shooting zombies whenever I wanted. As long as, you know, everything else got done.
I am thankful to be busy. And to be lazy. And on that note, I’m off to be busy again for three hours straight. I’ll be lazy afterwards, I swear.