In Defence of Idleness

Dec 17th, 2020 | by  TANNU GUPTA



Busy as a bumblebee. As studious as a beaver. As disciplined as the ants. Many analogies are hurled at idlers to show that idlers are good-for-nothing people. Although sermons of this kind are being told all through known history, idlers have not stopped growing in numbers. Quite a number of writers have ventured to put up a defence on behalf of idleness and idlers.

Idleness vs. Punctuality

One thing that strikes one's mind is the so-called superiority of the busy-bodies and all those who religiously adhere to time-tables. Can one really say that all those who gave themselves up to punctuality and hard work have been happier than those idlers who spend hours together in vainly tempting the fish to catch their bite, or those hieroglyphics of the stellar universe? For that matter, even those who have profitably spent their time cannot boast of the fact that their occupations have borne fruit to them a justification for pointing an accusing finger at idleness. One could also stretch one's idleness to the level of Omar Khayyam. How many times one would like to lead a life of such idleness instead of methodically commuting one's spare time in shuttling from office to home, while in office systematically pouring over the files in finding out the simple meaning hidden in the mountain of jargon in which files are written. Definitely, idleness has a point of its own. One can aim to reach the blissful unawareness of Omari Khayyam.

The worst of those who assume airs because of them being actively engaged in some work, is their very behaviour. A busy man can never converse but he only gables, whereas an idle person is all sweetness and charm when he talks to others. One smells the sweat and the fret if one is talking to an active person; whereas , when one is talking to an idle person one inhales all the human warmth criss-crossed by gentle smiles and resonant laughters.

Probably, the worst quality of those who are not idlers is their very appearance. Cockeyed by their own superiority, a man whose time is fully occupied always looks down upon idle people, if he wears glasses it is still worse as he starts pouring contempt through his thick glasses on all the poor idle mortals. Apart from the looks, a busy man also makes faces either by wrinkling his nose, knitting his eye-brows, or stretching his lips, all in a jeering manner, showing that he is far too an important man. Contrary to the picture of an idle man. His facial muscles are relaxed. Each of his gestures reminds one of the 'abhinaya', or 'hasta mudra' of the 'Bharatanatyam dancers'. And his looks bathe us with a soft and tender radiance. How better the world could have been if it had been populated by idlers alone?


A Positive side

There is a positive side too, in defence of idleness. Those who run after the blood of idlers often ignore the fact that an idle person might be imbibing blessedness, which a busy man can never dream of. It is only an idler who knows the messages of a co waft of breeze; the mysterious messages in the depth of the blue sky; the calm river sound; the sprightly dance of the dream-enfranchised feet of the stars; the pathos of all the humdrum life; the concocted scholarliness and sophistication that hide earthly truths of life in books; the resonance of the distant temple bells; choir-singing in churches and the doleful cry of the 'muazzam' in the mosque. One could almost enumerate endlessly the blessings that fall to a lot of idlers. As and when these are acquired, an idle man imperceptibly grows rich in spirit. A busy man might build houses and houses and might pile up bank-accounts and shares on the stock-exchanges market but he can never know the delight of the spirit.


As idle people are enriched with all those little blessings of life, they are the people who contribute for the sanity of humanity. Probably, but for the presence of the idle people, the world would have been destroyed. The threat of the modern world that each one of us might be killed time and again by the nuclear stock-pile of today could be attributed to the over-busy of the world-a new placard for the Hippies: Be Idle!!





Ebullient learner always coming up with new ideas.

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