November 2, 2021
Reflections, Day 25
“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.”
When I was young my father said, “Son, if you want to be important you have to work hard. The harder you work the better. Work makes character.”
I mowed grass, I did all sorts of odd jobs. I had a newspaper route, and then when I was 16, I got a real job.
“Organic materials relocate technician”
That meant riding in the backs of trucks with a crew which went all over the county fighting overgrowth in cemeteries. My main job was to sling a swingblade for 9 hours a day in the south Georgia heat.
I worked hard, too. The straw boss man told me that I was the best ever swingblade man—but, would I please slow down because I was embarrassing the other guys. I felt important after that.
For years and years, I worked hard at something or other wanting to be important.
My mother, on the other hand, taught me to look around and to appreciate what I saw. When she took me somewhere new, we would look around. On the way back home she would ask me all sorts of questions about what we saw. She taught me to feel things, to touch a leaf, or to stop and watch a butterfly as it flutters around the flowers. She taught me to listen to the birds and crickets.
So I learned to work hard and to notice things. One day I noticed that there was a kind of work that wasn’t all that hard and which wasn’t really work because I loved it.
Yesterday I had a few hours to be alone. I always have a list of things to do so I walked around looking at things until I came up with a plan: I would take the afternoon off. Completely, and not do much of nothing.”
So I walked around and looked at the flowers. I stroked a fern frond; a cup or two of expresso added dignity to the occasion. I totally wasted an afternoon.
Or did I?
Thanks to Weyland Billingsly for the quote.