Lazy, Weary, and Restful

 

Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after close.

 

Three weeks away from the world; three weeks away from the blog. Not by choice but rather by the simple fact that travelling induces laziness in my life. I tune out the old habits except for a few and zone in on the experience of life around me. As best as one can, try to take in everything going on to remember in six months, a year, ten.

It became apparent on this trip that I was acutely aware of my own laziness and yet willing to let it be. Days full of adventure didn’t inspire me to come home and write. Reflect is a more accurate term while slowly reading through Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life (AF) and Matthew B. Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head (AF).  Two great books each with markedly different messages and approaches.

Perhaps something will come at a later date weaving the two together but my excuse is jet lag has set in like a subtle fog without end. Critical thinking is at a low point so a simple observation of a weaving and insightful quote from the latter.

Once upon a time, our problem was guilt: the feeling that you have made a mistake, with reference to something forbidden. This was felt as a stain on one’s character. Ehrenberg suggests the dichotomy of the forbidden and the allowed has been replaced with an axis of the possible and the impossible. The question that howvers over your character is no longer that of how good you are, but of how capable you are, where capacity is measured in something like kilowatt hours  – the raw capacity to make things happen. With this shift comes a new pathology. The affliction of guilt has given way to weariness – weariness with the vague and unending project of having to become one’s fullest self. We call this depression. – Matthew B. Crawford – The World Beyond Your Head, p. 165

Weariness. This project of becoming one’s fullest self; it seemed to reach out of the page and tap me on the forehead gently. My laziness can become a defence mechanism against moving forward on a constant basis with most waking moments spent working on one project or another. It left me thinking that weariness is something I need to be more mindful of on a daily basis not letting negativity rule the thoughts. Laziness. Does it raise a negative connotation in your head like it does mine? Rephrased to Not Doing and the connotation lifts somewhat. How about resting? Better? A simple word choice to start this post and the mindset has shifted away from something viewed as negative to truly a positive aspect of my trip.

Resting for three weeks brings a sense of renewed energy and a more open mindset moving forward as I look to challenge myself when it comes to photography and writing.

(I took a break here and returned a day later feeling refreshed and dove back into Matthew’s book)

Matthew Crawford’s book covers a wide breadth of topics moving from attention in today’s world, individualism, and covering what authority/freedom means with everything going on around us. Perhaps we are less free than we expect and yet, similar to his original book, Shop Class As Soulcraft, he recognises the importance of hands-on skilled trades or hobbies to our individuality. If all of us are linked inexorably in this digital age, doing the same thing and staring through our screens, what do we use to connect to the world in a more tangible, individual way? We continue to get pulled deeper into social media yet begin to see products and companies popping up that are offering a way out. Suddenly fountain pens and notebooks are unexplainably popular in a digital world. The popularity of items that take us away from connectedness is growing around us (consider the explosion of wet shaving and straight razors even). A couple examples amongst hundreds.

I think about my own experiences in this massively connected world that can grow more lonely the more connected we become, and I consider why I picked up a camera and a pen. I liken these two hobbies to the skilled trades in The World Beyond Your Head and think perhaps it was my own way to individuality. A subconscious reaction to a growing sense of isolation and a way to re-connect tangibly with the world.

Weariness in today’s culture seems to be fueled more and more by our own connectedness. The appearance that we are growing closer together allows for comparisons on a minute by minute basis resulting in us pushing ourselves even harder to … keep up. Rest is needed in a lot of cases, and as Matthew suggests, hobbies that allow us to disconnect with the world and focus more on our own passions.

Takeaways:

  1. Consider for a moment the word choices you use to describe your own behaviours. Laziness is subtle but we are all guilty of falling into the trap of negativity. Even if you pick only one consider an alternate word choice that would describe the same state in a positive manner.
  2. As I wrote this blog post in two parts the weight of laziness truly lifted as it shifted into rest. The words we use to describe our habits, actions or even the tone of language we speak to ourselves can be a different form of weariness. Consider the positive side of your language choice in cases like this and see if you notice any difference in mindset.
  3. Make a list of your own hobbies and consider the ways in which they help you disconnect with the world and connect more with yourself. Think about the benefits they have on your own mindset and if you have any unhealthy relationships with the hobbies in order to meet some standard in today’s connected world.
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