As I center down to chart a course for myself for the New Year I’m intrigued by a poem of Dorothy Parker’s. Parker wrote:
“Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.”
I’m especially attracted to her four elements of wisdom: idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Idleness might seem a natural for those of us who complain about too much to do. We talk as if opportunity to do nothing is one we’d eagerly embrace given the chance. But ask anyone who’s seriously tried meditation and you’ll get the same answer: turning off one’s mental ‘voices’ to be truly still and at rest and at peace is very difficult, and darn near impossible for some.
Our work ethic conspires against us. After all, “idleness is the devil’s workshop” my mother used to warn! My first reaction when I hear what to me are hair-brained schemes is to think, “Those folks don’t have enough to do!”
Work is easily equated with worth … idleness with worthlessness.
My Scotties show me an alternative, a better way. I’ve dubbed their Way, ‘Idlefullness.’
All who know Scotties know they are the embodiment of energy and activity, the polar opposite of slackers. In fact, when the need calls for it, they achieve a level of focused, applied energy that seems almost like a nuclear reaction! Nevertheless, they can turn it off and curl up for a nap in a spot of Winter sunshine in a heartbeat.
Perhaps my trouble is not that I reject idleness, but rather that I dabble at it with the consequence I never really get there because I’m never ‘idle-full’ like my Scotties.
I’m resolved in 2014 that wisdom for me will be to know idleness — the real thing — not the masquerade.
Wisdom in the form of authentic rejuvenation of mind and spirit will come when I know fully what my Scotties have been modeling for me all along: ‘idleFULLness.’
Joseph Harvill, publisher of Great Scots Magazine