The Virtues of the Laziness

Mark Harvey

Hello, my name is Mark, and I’m…. and… I’m … a lazy slob! Applause all around, pats on the back, an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and support. No, I have to be dreaming. It’s just not like that. There is no acceptance of laziness. Rarely would you find a loving parent chatting with a neighbour and saying “His teachers say he’s a very lazy boy, so we’re hoping that one day he’ll grow up to be a complete slob”. (Actually my mother did once say that, but I think it was because she knew I was listening). Sadly, throughout society today laziness is actively discouraged. This is a dangerous mistake! Laziness should be celebrated and nurtured. It is a quality that has played a major role in the development of our way of life, and indeed humankind owes its very existence to laziness. Science has shown that early mammals evolved during the heyday of the dinosaurs. The more ambitious, energetic and driven of the mammals competed with the dinosaurs on the surface and rapidly got eaten or trodden on for their troubles. While the lazier of the mammals sloped off to live down holes in the ground, only coming out late at night when the great brutes were safely asleep, and only when absolutely necessary. Then one day, about 65 million years ago, the lazy mammals cautiously peeped out to see what all that noise had been about, discovered all the nasty dinosaurs had gone, and emerged triumphant into the daylight to reap the rewards of their laziness. Thereby providing an evolutionary pathway for humankind’s existence today in a form that isn’t all scaly and slimy. Humankind is distinguished from the rest of the animal kingdom by its amazing capacity for cogitative reasoning and imaginative thought. However, this capacity is greatly reduced by stress, under which the human brain regresses to baser, animal levels dominated by instinct and survival. Has there ever been an obsessed, determined executive type who didn’t complain of stress? They are all so stressed they’d be lucky to get so much as a twitch out of their brain-stems. So who amongst us can maintain humankind’s elevation above the animals? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the lazy slob to the rescue! We are the experts, thinking is our speciality. Just ask us for assistance in any activity and we will happily offer to think about it. Throughout history all the major breakthroughs and inventions have come from the quiet and rested minds of the lazy. If it doesn’t seem that way it’s because we never get around to developing our ideas, that’s where the sodding go-getters step in and take all the credit. For instance Leonardo Da Vinci may have been handy with a crayon, but it was Waldo Da Wieni, his personal hair stylist, who came up with the clever ideas. And Denis Pinkleton, a struggling theology student at Cambridge, was the first to get a grasp on gravity. His theory was passed on to Isaac Newton only after the amicable resolution of an apple fight.

The spiritual benefits of laziness were taught by Jesus himself (Matthew chapter 6, the bit about birds and lilies and stuff), but in this modern world laziness is inexplicably frowned upon, and the spiritual aspect is ignored altogether. This is so unjust. All those successful, pushy go-getters out there are the last to acknowledge the contribution of the lazy. But there can be no denying that they got where they are by ruthlessly competing with only the other pushy go-getters, not by competing with us lazy slobs who just couldn’t be bothered with it all. Imagine what would happen if hordes of lazy slobs suddenly got off their couches and started ruthlessly competing too. A significant proportion of those so-called winners would end up destitute, sleeping under bridges. There’s not enough room for everyone to be a winner. Surely the most unjustified but widely held belief is that being a lazy slob is an effortless easy option. Nothing could be further from the truth. The effort required for a lazy slob to roll out of bed before lunchtime would be more than sufficient to put a bouncy ambitious type into orbit! It’s the motivated workaholics who take the easy way out. They all know they should be getting more sleep, spending more quality time with the family and finally getting that work / life balance sorted. But they just keep on rushing around, busy, busy, busy! They can’t summon up the effort to slow down, they simply lack the necessary sit down and stay attitude. Nowadays we are all aware of the importance of reducing energy wastage for the well-being of the planet as a whole. It is therefore essential to recognise a basic, inconvenient truth, that it is far more energy efficient for the eager, driven non-slob to hop up off the couch and manually change channels, than for the lazy slob to shift a buttock to see if he’s sitting on the remote. That’s just the way it is. Just accept it, and trust us, it’s better for the environment that way. Back in the 17th Century, one of the foundation stones of modern science was laid down in Pinkleton’s Primary Postulate (nowadays more commonly known as Newton’s First Law). This asserts that “Every body continues in its state of rest …. unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it”. The universal truth revealed by this fundamental law is that the state of rest is the most pure and natural of all states. What is laziness if not the physical manifestation of the desire to remain in that pure and natural state? It is the spiritual quest for perfection. Surely the most noble of goals. So please, acknowledge the virtue of our chosen path. Show us the respect we deserve. Cherish us, revere us, tend for us, and then, most important of all, stop bothering us, so that we can continue to provide our crucial role in the survival of humankind and the planet itself. And on your way out, can you grab us a beer? Cheers.

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