The Return on Idleness

06/27/2018
06/27/2018 CHRC

The Return on Idleness

Returning from vacation, it only seems fitting to produce something profound on the merits of vacating, being idle, and staring up at the ever-changing clouds. Luckily for me Brian O’Connor, a professor of philosophy at University College Dublin, wrote a significant essay about this very thing for Time while I was away in …Ireland.

He includes a favorite vignette of mine often used in stories on productivity and efficiency. The original, published in 1963 by German writer Heinrich Böll, tells a fictional story of a visitor to a small fishing village somewhere in the West of Europe. In the story the precursor of an efficiency expert thinks he has a way to help this fisherman find more leisure. We were in a fishing village in the most western part of Europe, as I practiced being idle. Yet the pressures of productivity are waves that keep lapping at the shores of modern Ireland. On our last day we met a fascinating artist and entrepreneur. She told us of a movement in Ireland to slow down and have a cup of tea as a way of checking in with people; to see how they are really doing. So perhaps these words in O’Connor’s essay remind us of the ROI on idleness: “…yet Böll’s story captures a recognizable time when work was considered a necessary evil, second in value to other goods like friendship, rest and community.” Read More Here