Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Art of Laziness

Lately I feel I'm getting lazier.  For instance, unless I really have something pressing to do, I'm quite willing to allow myself a long lie-in in bed and getting up at an ungodly hour, or just potter around the house with nothing to do other than while away my time.  It has gotten to the point when I don't even feel guilty about it, but actually relish these moments of unproductivity as a time for just being rather than doing.  Perhaps it's the effect of Global Warming - Jakarta is so unbearably hot these days - or the lack of oxygen in my brain caused by this city's pollution and spending too much time inhaling my own carbon dioxide in my car while stuck in the Big Durian's horrendous traffic - that is contributing to this lackadaisical mood.  But idleness, as we all know, is a pernicious thing, especially when it is not a well-deserved respite from hard work.  It rots the brain and corrupts the soul.

That's why in all religions and guides to good ethical and moral behaviour, hard work, persistence and effort are extolled as virtues we must all aspire to.  The Devil, they say will find work for idle hands to do.  Work that is not likely going to make us examples of outstanding citizens, however.  Sooner or later, laziness, once we succumb to its irresistible lure, will prove to be our greatest enemy and our deadliest destroyer.

Okay, so I'm being dramatic, but getting something without having to work hard for it, is something that we in this country are pretty good at.  That's why we excel at taking short cuts, at choosing the path of least resistance and maximising gain even at someone else's loss; in other words, making a profession out of laziness and being the expert in corruption.  We're too lazy to think things through beyond the superficialities, too corrupt to want to carry things out in the way they're supposed to be.  Thus although we're in the list of countries with the most potentials, we're also top in the list of countries that are most corrupt.  Our school report would read, 'Indonesia shows promise but should work harder and stop wasting time on useless things.' The question is, where does the laziness come from?  In my case, I suppose a certain amount of complacency brought on by a lack of overriding ambition that makes me want to be something big and do something great.  Instead, I find myself in a state of equanimity that is in want of very little and easily satisfied with what I have.  This might be fine for my overall happiness index, however, it is not conducive to productivity and creativity.  Moreover, the line between satisfaction and boredom is very thin, and the latter, as we have mentioned is a source of many problems.  When I'm lazy, I am effectively robbing myself of a better future and depriving others of my contribution.

Laziness, therefore, comes when I seek for myself an easy life over a meaningful or more productive one that stretches my potentials.  It comes with a belief that the universe will provide and everything will be alright.  Why work too hard when you can spend more time sitting around praying and hoping that God will give you everything that you want?  My friend tells me of a really popular bakso seller who, each time he goes back to his home village, would spend weeks there hanging around with family and friends, while neglecting his many customers in Jakarta and his potential earnings.  The answer is, he sees no reason to return to work while he still hasn't run out of money.  It makes perfect sense in a way.  After all, why work when you don't really have to?  Lounging is so much better.. I suppose he is the typical Indonesian who, if offered the same wage for half the working time, would choose to work half the time, rather than make double the amount by working the entire day.

Blame it on the fair weather with the eternal sunshine, the plentiful land and the generosity of Mother Nature that allow us to survive and live even with the most minimal of necessities.  It makes us into a gentle bunch of people who are happy-go-lucky without worrying too much about tomorrow and grateful for what life has dished out in the shape of pastoral simplicity.  Left to myself, I'm more than content to just sit around gazing at the clouds, especially when the stomach is full.  For there is nothing more blissful than living in the now.

Problems arise when you want to have a lot and consume a lot, but are too lazy to work hard for it.  And there are a lot of things to want in this world that unfortunately require money to obtain them.  Hence, the prevailing corruption in this country.  This wilful desire to have a bunch of things, money, possessions, status, positions, not tomorrow or in some distant future, not through some painful process, but as a right and right now.  Given the choice, for instance, a corrupt mind, like a lazy one, would prefer taking his neighbour's goat and selling it rather than having to feed and raise the goat himself first before he could make money out of it.  Especially if he could get away with it and everyone is doing it.

So how to shake off my laziness?  It is nothing less than to be shamed out of it, which I recently did by spending time with someone who makes a profession out of whipping himself into shape.  During the hours when the pillow is still the more attractive option, he does 10k round the Senayan sports complex, every morning, religiously.  After which he goes to the office to run his tens of companies and hundreds of employees.  Somewhere in between he still has time to raise billions for charitable causes that help lift people out of their misery.  And he still has time to play with his young children and, by the looks of things, keep his wife happy.

'How do you do it?' I ask, full of admiration.
'I feel guilty if I don't, is his answer. 'I feel I'm wasting my potentials.'

Needless to say, I'm inspired to follow his example.  The problem is, until now I still haven't managed to get hold of that guilty feeling...

(Desi Anwar:  First Published in The Jakarta Globe)

1 comment:

  1. I confess, I am a victim of he habit of putting things off until it becomes important and urgent.
    I was looking for a magical solution but I read it here and elsewhere, that the only cure is will power.
    Still lazily hoping I will be on top of things I want to do rather than things happening to me.


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