A few years ago close friends gave me the book “Being Idle – Now with added Idleness”. This is the second edition after its initial release in 2004. Inside the front cover they wrote, “Dear Dave, one of the few lessons you have still to learn”. Damned right I thought!
What a fabulous present it turned out to be. My sources tell me that this book has transformed the lives of many thousands of henpecked, harried people, allowing them to discover a greater meaning in their lives. Many have checked out, turned their backs on their bosses and the jobs that previously drove them insane and addled their brains. Some have become complete sloths, others more sloth like in selected aspects of their lives but cat like in others, channelling their energy into things that really mattered to them rather than seeing their essence simply dissipate. This book has transformed my life, turning me into the highly focussed individual that I am, when I need to be, whilst allowing me to recharge when appropriate, like a sloth hanging from a tree or a lizard warming in the sun.
The book’s practical hints and tips are arranged in chapters mirroring the progress of the day, with names like “8 am – Waking Up is Hard to Do”; Sleeping In; Skiving for Pleasure and Profit; Being Ill; Nap and Smoking, before moving into the evening with The Pub; Riot; and the awesome chapter Sex and Idleness. The Art of Conversation and Party Time follow, and then finally we get to Sleep. Blimey, the pursuit of idleness seems just as exhausting as real work!
For the incurably angst driven workaholics amongst us, this book serves as a timely reminder that how we feel is largely under our own control and how we can be more mindful about what really matters to us.
Yo! I am a transformed man thanks to this book – largely though, because of one thing I have taken to heart – big time.
The radio programme Morning Report has been the start to my day for years despite times when it is pure torment to listen to. In the UK, their version of this national wake up call is on Radio 4 and called the Today programme. The objectivity and rigor of the journalists and producers presenting these kinds of programmes is crucial to their success. Even at their best they can be infuriating, but especially so when they descend into simple reporting and only amplifying (or broadcasting) the press releases, opinions and feelings of others.
When it comes to our own Morning Report, we are subjected to Bill and Ben playing tag with each other; always trying just too hard to milk every thing they can out of what little has usually happened, what might happen, what could happen if, and even from what is never likely to happen. All the while, asking the poor sods on the other end of a telephone line, “how did that make you feel”? Sensation over substance most of the time, they ask all the wrong questions and few of the right ones and do this from 0600 to 0900, every week day morning. Instead of the incisive questioning we expect and deserve, this “show” has for some years lost its way. I’d rather boil my head in oil than listen to morning report.
These are not new feelings – I was thinking about this when I was with my mother in Wellington, a little while ago. She was a liberal and open-minded woman and unlike many, she hadn’t become more conservative and fearful as she grew older. Her friends were lovely, mainly women, mostly widows. Some listened to Morning Report and watched the six o’clock news and lived a life of fear, forever complaining about how bad the world was becoming and how dangerous it was even to live in the relative peace of Lower Hutt and Wellington. Their mood was dictated by the morning fear mongers and the gloom this cast seemed to be changing them forever.
So it was no real surprise, when on the odd occasion my mother fell into this kind of thinking, to play the blame card and see the world as an ever darker place! When that did happen, we would talk about the many small acts of kindness that filled her days: the calls from her neighbours if she was slow to open her bedroom curtains; the generosity of the myriad of taxi drivers who ferried her from place to place and helped her at the supermarket; and most of all, the love and support that she both gave and received from her enormous network of friends. She had the good sense to cancel her subscription to the daily paper and sought out more in depth reports about the things that mattered to her. She gave Bill and Ben a wide berth, seeing them more as reporting heads than the reliable source of meaningful information they pretend to be.
It’s a new year and I’d rather boil my head in oil than listen to Morning Report. But that does not mean I am checking out, in fact I am doing the opposite and checking in, and seeking my news and views about the things that concern me from sources more reliable and factual. After all it’s an election year and now more than ever, I want to be part of a better informed and engaged public. Why don’t you try it to?