Let’s talk about idleness. Is it good or bad?

Someone who’s never had a job does nothing but write in notebooks all day. Someone who inherited his father’s money does nothing but travel the world. Which is good and which is bad?

A woman becomes a celebrated public speaker and spends 48 weeks a year on the road, making a million dollars a year. A man decides not to take a high-pressure job and spends nights and weekends at home with family, cooking them dinner and doing the dishes. Who is doing better?

A child of 7 plays with Legos for hours. A child of 16 plays Overwatch for hours. A 28-year-old man has a part-time job and spends all his spare time on Facebook. Who is lazy? Who is learning? Who is contributing?

A coder makes 9 million dollars and retires at 43. A plumber becomes too sore to work and retires at 59. If each of them sits around reading books and interacting on Facebook, who is idle? Should we blame them?

An “influencer” spends her time on fashion and just-so selfies, and sells her huge following to advertising sponsors. A solo business consultant develops a huge following for his insights about marketing, and sells ads on his blog. Who has sold out? Who is doing worthwhile work?

A man works a 40-hour factory job and spends all his spare time reading detective novels. A woman works an 80-hour a week professional job and spends all her spare time on Instagram. Are they wasting time or relaxing?

A couple takes a two-week vacation to the Caribbean and spends it lounging on the beach and drinking rum every night. A rich entrepreneur takes a one-month vacation and pays Sherpas to guide him to the top of Mount Everest. Who is wasteful? Who is just relaxing in their own way?

A man blogs while on vacation. Another man blogs while he should be working. Which is stealing, and from whom?

After being laid off, somebody does nothing but think and talk to people for six months. Then they invent something amazing. Was the six months wasted? Would your opinion differ if the invention was a flop? If it took two years? If it took ten years?

Time is such a strange concept. We all waste so much of it . . . but working all the time is its own form of waste.

I don’t know what idleness actually is. I just know it’s a pretty weird thing to think about.

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  1. The only thing I can add to this reflection that time spent without the motive of love gets wasted. And no one can inform me of this but me.

  2. Maybe the way to determine idleness is to judge it by regret. If you regret wasted time that is idleness. If you are glad about how your time was spent, it is not idleness.