A quick mental accounting of the costs-and-benefits of exertion has often led me to prudently opt for inaction. In the physical realm. Life affords numerous opportunities, however, for humans to joust with their Senses, accompanied by no physical displacement of either Man or Matter. Is it possible to really stay inactive, even if for a brief period? A battery of intellectuals have long extolled the virtues of action but I don’t recollect much praise for inaction. From personal experience, inactivity has its benefits. The seeds of crazy thought are sown not in the humdrum of activity but in moments of idleness.
There are actions, I suppose, that supply Man with a sense of achievement; a reason for Being. And then, there is the opposite of action (inaction, idleness) that is usually expected to confer on the individual a feeling of uselessness. The former is welcomed – however unknown the objectives – while the latter, is scoffed at; however credible the endeavour and however fruitful the consequences. To be clear, the action-inaction paradigm includes both, the physical and the mental spheres. But it is physical inactivity that most of us allude to when we bewail apparent uselessness. Mental inactivity – which, I’m afraid, is far more rampant – is ironically, virtually absent in everyday discussions.
We love doing things (many times, without any thought). Flapping our hands and legs to convey an appearance of exercise, sometimes by moving inanimate objects along the surface of the earth relative to other objects, sometimes by moving our own selves relative to other mobile creatures…we revel in physical activity. The sedentary white-collar class – The Bondeds – divert themselves by wiggling their legs and the males, specifically, (sometimes) by wiggling their…
I often hear, “I wish I could be idle. Do nothing at all.” There’s immense sincerity in wishful banter. It’s a funny paradox, though. We yearn for inactivity but are incapable of enjoying it when we are lucky enough to have its company. Human beings overestimate their capacity for inaction.
We prefer thoughtless action to thoughtful inaction. We grudgingly sashay through the mundane but turn away from rare moments of complete inactivity. I think that’s because we haven’t been taught (or, probably I haven’t learnt how) to be inactive.
‘What about The Lazy’s’, do I hear? Those privileged group that do precious little through the day? They are the closest to the ideal of mental inactivity. But I think most Lazy’s aren’t truly inactive. Most constantly think about ways of persisting in their state of laziness in the future. It’s tough to do nothing. I would welcome them if they indulged in no physical activity during the day but helped spread some useful thought/ideas around.
I wish the idle mind was indeed a workshop. The world could be the better off if it were. Physical inactivity is within Man’s reach. But absolute mental inactivity, I think, is impossible.
This post is proof.
…and you, my Dear Reader, by reading thus far, is proof too!