Barnes: Having nothing better to do
I want to say a few kind words about goofing off.
I first must acknowledge that I spent a significant part of my early years not being particularly admiring people who lounged around frittering away their time.
From my present perch in the retirement years, I have learned to respect those who have embraced the art of malingering. I’m learning from them.
I acknowledge that I am not very good at it yet. I still lack the temperament to pull it off. I imagine there are a number of you out there who identify with me.
What many of us got good at was being useful, busy, efficient, punctual and resourceful in our effort to achieve success. Accomplishment was our goal. Sure our commitments gave us certain satisfactions, but they also stressed us out. We paid a price—and most of us know that now.
So, today, instead of worrying about “getting things done,” some of us who have reached a certain age are learning the noble art of leaving things undone. Many of the things that used to matter don’t anymore. What are we going to replace these things with? What are we to do when upon awakening in the morning, we find there is no daily schedule?
Many of us grew up to become action-oriented people. We became doers. We got good at doing. But now, BEING is the new priority. Our character is getting called into question. And the rub is, character isn’t manufactured overnight. We can’t just wave a wand that changes who we are as if we were some old shirt.
However, we can learn. For the fateful fact is, real character is often associated with something old. Its development takes time. Those well-earned facial lines are significant imprints that distinguish us from those whose character is in the early stages.
What we need to learn is to appreciate being older. We need to understand that old homes, old cathedrals, old silver, old china, old furniture, old cars, old paintings are beautiful —as are old men and women.
But we won’t see the beauty in ourselves — or anything else — if we can’t slow ourselves down. We need to find virtue in being idle. We need to learn the art of ambling, of just sitting quietly, of lounging and sipping old wine. We’ve got to admire the snail and his slow, careful pace.
There’s something about loafing that is glorious and magnificent. It has to do with time. And clocks — the absence thereof. It’s understanding that the hours, now, are truly ours. We’re in control, if we choose to be.
Instead of hustling to get somewhere and do something, we can sit back and reflect on just BEING. We can work on our characters and not fret about becoming one.
Enough already. Nap time.
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