The Importance of being Idle

Through Evelyn Rodriguez I stumbled across The virtue of idleness by Tom Hodgkinson.

Idleness as a waste of time is a damaging notion put about by its spiritually vacant enemies. Introspection could lead to that terrible thing: a vision of the truth, a clear image of the horror of our fractured, dissonant world.

I have gotten some of my most disruptive ideas when forced to stay in bed for days because of illness. For instance, the decision to become an independent consultant came to me, when I was admitted to hospital for over a week, back in 2001. I was striving hard to get various things of the ground (and working hard to that effect as well). When I was admitted to the hospital by surprise (so the neurologist could run a lot of tests in a short time) I was, so to say, stopped dead in my tracks.

Having nothing to do for most of the day besides a little reading, I pondered what things I could do to increase my effectiveness. After a few days of lying in bed, I realized I was not getting anywhere. This was disruptive, because until then I was living under the assumption I had found my dream job. I realized it was time to do something else.

After a week at the hospital, I became an outpatient. I stayed at home another week. Because of the heavy antibiotics I got, I was too tired to do much, so I spent most of my time just sitting in the garden (yes, summer can be an excellent time to be ill). Spending this idle time, with some reflections on life which hospital visits seem to bring inevitably, was a major factor in my decision to explore independent consulting as an option.

It is not guaranteed to work – not every time I get lay in bed ill, I get disruptive ideas. Introspection remains scary. There have been times I was scared to go on holiday, in case I might get those disruptive ideas. Especially, since at first, I have only an idea of what is wrong, not what could be done to remedy the situation. I’m trying to spend more idle time now.

When I started my independent consulting, I imagined I would have more time like when I was in university – just visiting people, hanging out, chatting on the couch. Instead, I have worked more hours than ever before… So recently, I’m making more time to travel and hang out with friends and colleagues.

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