Idleness is not Normal
I feel inspired by a headline used in one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talks on the Oprah tour. She is against balance. Balance puts too much pressure on us to be a particular way.
A friend recently had good intentions, when suggesting I should pose on the couch with cereal. This might feel natural for other people. But the image did not sit right with me.
It held some foreign assumptions. The cereal assumed that is the most responsible way to feed one’s self. It would be normalised. I am actually not used to milk at all. The orange lactose drenched carbs made me feel queasy.
A routine home made breakfast for me would involve: a chopped up tomato on toast, with sliced pear. That is too complicated to eat on a couch. So then I would be at the table with a knife and fork. Nothing extraordinary. But apparently that doesn’t have the same ‘ordinary’ affect. It wouldn't be 'real' enough.
The couch sitting aspect was equally unsettling. I found myself watching television on a sofa because that’s what everyone else does. It felt too ironic. I was conforming to a new public’s ideal of what I should be.
The result was a more practical dilemma. My mind was racing with a million thoughts, because it hadn’t been occupied. My mind wanted to do something.
The weekly chores had been procrastinated: laundry, kitchen cooking/cleaning, tidying up my apartment. What was I going to wear for the next week? How long can you leave the garbage in the kitchen before something suss happens? This is all because I sat on the couch at the TV eating cereal.
Let’s not become too feminist about this whole housework thing. No matter what gender you are, no matter what career you have, we all have to eat and wear clothes. We all solve it in different ways.
House cleaning is important no matter who we are. I became busy enough that it was like an experiment: How messy can Melanie’s apartment become before she can’t live her life? It's at the point where I don't even know where the TV remote is. I have known plenty of people who need to ‘tidy up before the cleaners arrive.’ Others, like me, solve it the old fashioned way with the home vacuum cleaner.
Food is another must, another priority above couch-potato-life. Some people dodge the old grocery shopping trip by getting take out, ordering those groceries that get delivered to your door, and so on. Some of us enjoy the process of picking and choosing the exact ingredients that go into our weekly meals. Most of us, at one stage or another, had those moments of saying: “Mum, can I get this….” Either way, we all generally prefer to sort out our food. It’s a thing to do on the weekend. It’s a thing that should take priority above couch potato time.
My beloved enjoyable work got tossed aside for this social experiment. The web site melaniesuzannewilson.com is still hungry for content. That is just one item on the to do list. Picture an array of commercial, voluntary, and academic adventures. And it was all put on hold. The vivid TV distracted me as much as the comfy couch. My mind was too absorbed in a fictional character's life instead of my own. Something didn't add up. It just didn't feel right.
Other people may want to escape the daily grind without leaving their homes. That is fine for those who are happy with it. I just don't feel comfortable doing less. Maybe that makes me less normal. Perhaps, like a beloved friend recently told me, I must feel so stressed because I am so active.
The thought of enjoying work is just very foreign to many people. Why is that? Too many people do something they don't enjoy or are not strongest at. I focused on my strengths. It's happier when it's easier. Whether it's commercially working, volunteering, helping family, housework chores, or studying, love what you do. Then you will be happy.
Don't do nothing. Do what you love instead. Happiness will follow.