Productivity, accomplishment, and hard work are valued qualities in our society and generally considered necessary to achieve success. Idleness, on the other hand, is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as an inclination not to do work or engage in activities. Synonyms and related words include: shiftlessness, sloth, laziness, loafing, and lounging. Thus, idleness is the opposite of diligence or ambition and not highly regarded.
But if we want to live a “dog’s life”, as many people wish they could do, it would be important to further examine how to incorporate more of the dog’s lifestyle into our own. In addition to hikes and walks, barking at the deer in our yard, chasing the cat, and mooching pets, Charlie takes frequent naps (generally while lying on his back), enjoys watching me clean, garden, or cook dinner, loves to go to bed at night and hates mornings. There are also many days he does appear sloth like (particularly after a long hike).
I like being diligent and ambitious; persevere to be my best; and take active steps toward my goals and dreams. I do not aspire to be sloth like or lazy. That being said, I do like my pajama days and the idleness those days allow me to experience – lying in the hammock, reading a good book, taking a nap, enjoying the sunrise or sunset, or watching mindless television.
Recently, however, I found myself caught up in productivity and busyness. So much so that I ignored physical symptoms of increased stress, repressed emotion, and fatigue. Pajama days went by the wayside. “Just power through it” became my motto. “When I get this done, I can relax”, I told myself. But the to-do list never ended and I finally hit the wall – hard. I couldn’t work, hike, write, clean the house, or cook. I was laid up on the couch with severe abdominal pain. CAT Scans, ultrasounds, and doctors provided zero answers. The good news was there was nothing seriously, physically wrong with me. The bad news…I was still incapacitated.
Finally, I listened to my soul and turned inward to once again embrace what I intuitively know works best for me: increased spirituality, emotional healing, and stress relief. My health-care team included an acupuncturist, chiropractor, life coach, and massage therapist. It took a month to surface and I learned to be very mindful of my activity level, thought process, and diet. Gluten and sugar are not my friends. Going 100 miles an hour and trying to be everything to everyone is not for me. Whole foods, meditation, yoga, exercise, and nature nourish my soul. And amazingly, so does idleness. Fatigue taught me to do chores in small bursts. Lying on the couch and practicing doing nothing taught me the meaning of true relaxation. This experience has helped me to realize that others will step up to fill the void of my absence. I know that I am appreciated, and I now understand that the world will continue to spin if I don’t cook dinner or mop the floor.
It feels as though I am on the “backside” of this lesson which is the dangerous time for relapse. The old patterns appear innocently and the ever present to-do list has grown. Vigilance is the key. Now more than ever is time for me to be mindful about the lifestyle I have chosen. Nourishing the Soul is my choice. Work smarter, not harder is my motto. Taking time for myself is becoming the habit.
Charlie stayed by my side, patiently waiting for regular walks and hikes. He role modeled the essence of taking a nap in the sun, laying on the deck to people watch, and enjoying a relaxing evening. When I finally started hiking again, he was patient with my slow pace only asking to share in my snack of apples and peanut butter I would pack along to refuel my body (his favorite!).
I get it now, idleness is essential, and I plan to continue to incorporate it into my daily routine in order to reduce stress and stay healthy.