Embrace The Boredom, Ctd

A few readers complement this post with some classic writings:

I’m heavily invested in the notion that idleness, laziness, and procrastination are vital to the full flowering of human life. (If they aren’t, I’m fucked.) I’m reminded of this passage from Emerson’s Experience:

We do not know today whether we are busy or idle. In times when we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterwards discovered, that much was accomplished, and much was begun in us. All our days are so unprofitable while they pass, that ‘tis wonderful where or when we ever got anything of this which we call wisdom, poetry, virtue. We never got it on any dated calendar day. Some heavenly days must have been intercalated somewhere, like those that Hermes won with dice of the Moon, that Osiris might be born. It is said, all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered. Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.


I saw your post on idleness and I wanted to share what I think is the best piece ever on the virtues of idleness – Chesterton’s essay on lying in bed. The gist of it:

The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. …

Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before. It is the great peril of our society that all its mechanisms may grow more fixed while its spirit grows more fickle. A man’s minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. …

For those who study the great art of lying in bed there is one emphatic caution to be added. … The caution is this: if you do lie in bed, be sure you do it without any reason or justification at all.

As someone who struggles with discipline and time management, I find it refreshing to be told that this is not a moral failing.