The value of idleness

A bad thing about idleness is that it can bring out the worst in you.

A good thing about idleness is that it can bring out the worst in you.

It’s true that when things are hectic you can see what you’re really made of, where you’re strong and where you’re weak. You can see what’s really important to you and what isn’t.

But if you listen carefully enough, it’s the same with idleness too.With nothing to distract you, you can only face yourself. You might try to avoid it for some time by checking your email, browsing your day away, watching corny movies with vague sentimental value or just staring at the ceiling.  But sooner or later, sluggishly pulling yourself around and away from any work will become unbearable. Your flaws, along with the pointlessness of the situation, will slowly bubble up and stare you in the face.

That’s when Tolstoy steps in. So, before he does, ask yourself why you’re feeling the way you are: why you might beavoiding doing something you know should be done; or whether you know what you should be doing at all.

Because while going into action out of disgust of idleness will surely get you out of said  idleness, doing it rashly will probably mean you’re not sure which direction you’re going in – that you’re doing something to get away from the idleness rather than going toward something – and the energy you got from hating the idleness will, likely, quickly burn (you) out. I guess it’s still better than not doing anything, but why don’t think it through first?

Ok, it’s not all that dramatic. A few days ago I found myself wasting my time in front of the screen again. I didn’t momentarily drop into a puddle of self-loathing, I just realized that it’s time to finish my vacation and start working on my projects. It’s funny, because even though I know what I want to do in life, and for all my talk here about proactivity, I still end up in front of the screen for several days longer than I should.

I guess all of it really does take practice. All the time.

Because while it’s not difficult for me to pull out of idleness now, I can remember all too easily how much time I’ve wasted before I knew what I wanted. And, well, honestly, I know that at that time I wouldn’t have understood the answer which I understand now, even if it were spelled out for me.

So, when you’re feeling restless from idleness, quiet down and listen to yourself. Take a long walk, stare at the ceiling, go to the library – just find a place to think. Then, when you can feel the beginnings of an answer, start doing one of the things which you feel you should do, and invest yourself into it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s learning a musical instrument or running a company; as long as you can feel that in that direction lies something which will pull you in and on, do it. You won’t know where you’ll end up, but would it be fun otherwise?

I know I’m meandering a bit with my thoughts and ideas here, and I think I know why. For some reason I have a need to sum up a lot of the things that have happened to me in the past few years – as if by putting them down on paper will somehow help in closing one more important door of the “previous me” – or, to put it in a more positive manner, I need to explain myself to me in order to more clearly grasp where I’m heading next.

So, expect some more lessons from my past to myself, and a story of how I got to where I am now.

Also, don’t check your email right now. Just don’t.

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