I ran across this great essay about ‘the virtues of idleness‘ which I just love (via BoingBoing), though it’s a bit heavy handed, politically. Later I stumbled across a reference to Ricardo Semler‘s latest book (never heard of Semler before, but I think I’m in love with him–don’t tell my wife). And then I stumbled over Jeffrey’s post about Thinking for a living and it all just begged for a little riff.
But if you read all those links I posted, what’s left to say? Slow is good. Taking time to think and reflect is good. Too many of us don’t do it enough. I’ve got a friend who is probably the single busiest person I know, professionally speaking. Yet each week, he takes around two hours of "work time" and spends them in quiet reflection at a nearby Franciscan monastery. And he’s better for it, really.
That picture at the top of this page really does represent how I spend a decent portion of my workweek. Looking out the window and thinking. Ok, sometimes I give up on the thinking and just enjoy watching the squirrels fight outside my window. But you get the idea. Either way, I sure look like a slacker to the folks walking outside the window, or peeking in the office door. 🙂
The bottom line is that I just can’t imagine never having that kind of time. It happens to me some weeks, when I’m scurrying around trying to get this or that done by some deadline, and at home we’ve got committments every night. I really begin to feel the lack of space–it’s nearly claustrophobic for me. When that happens I start dropping committments like hot potatoes. I start planning ‘mental health days’ at work and going surfing (which, for me, is the same as the monastery for my friend). Physically, I have a relatively high tolerance for pain, but in this domain (psychic? spiritual? emotional?) I have a pretty low tolerance for the pain of busy-ness.
So, I dunno. I think I’m just built differently than a lot of folks. I’d love to stand on my soapbox and rant about the virtues of slowness, but all I really know is that it works for me. I know there are untold benefits to quiet reflection and inward turning, but for a lot of folks, the busy-ness of business is easier to swallow. It’s my suspicion that the folks who turn up their noses at the idea of slowing down, might actually be a little bit afraid of the idea. After all, if they slow down, who would do all the work?