The Right to Be Lazy

Balancing (or trying to) Work & Relaxation
“Parents expect too much from their kids. Their expectations are too specific.”
The Right to Be LazyChapter: SchoolLess Speaks
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I know that my parents want SmallerMan and me to be happy.  But what does it mean to be happy?  What is their interpretation of happiness?  I’m not really sure.  Is it for us to be hyper intellectual?  To be rich?  Healthy?  If I were a heavy drinker and smoker, extremely obese, and unemployed, but still happy, what would they think?  If I got to be 25 years old, and started a successful restaurant, performed at jazz clubs all over the world, climbed Mt. Everest, and was married with kids, but unhappy, what would they think?

Parents expect too much from their kids.  Their expectations are too specific.  Why can’t parents trust the developmental process?  It’s OK for kids to think they will be in the NBA, or president, or a celebrity, because later in life they will realize what is possible and what just isn’t all by themselves.

Probably the biggest question any young person has is what they really want to do with their lives?  I myself have had many ideas.  Here they are in chronological order:  farmer, president, grounds keeper at Fenway Park, glass blower, a guy who lives in the mountains, muffin maker, ice cream shop owner, chef, jazz clarinetist, chef (again), jazz saxophonist, bassist, chef, wine and chocolate maker, and then, now, no idea.

And to make figuring all this out even harder, the things on my list are rarely mentioned in school.  Many of the skills taught at school become almost useless after college.

In life you have to balance relaxation and work.  Both are very necessary.  I know someone who works all the time, mostly memorizing facts, and never has time to read and write for fun, play music, and relax.  I also know someone who watches TV and plays on the computer as much as possible.   The factual work is necessary but not in such large amounts.  The fun is good too but not all the time.

When parents say, “Kid, I want you to be happy,” what do they really mean?   The person who plays on the computer and watches TV is quite happy, but not very smart, and the person who works all day is less happy, but smarter.  So what do parents want?  What do I want?

What really makes us happy?  When people have a lot of money, they say, “I wanna hot tub, I wanna Ferrari.”  And eventually, that starts to come back at you bad.  There is a reason so many celebrities commit suicide or try.  Too much wanting, too much unnecessary stuff.   Billy Joel and Hemingway, Kurt Cobain and Alexander McQueen.

When you’re happy, you try harder, hence you get good work done.  You accomplish more.   Karl Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, wrote a book called, “The Right to Be Lazy.”  We have that right, but sometimes it isn’t taken advantage of, sometimes, though certainly not always, laziness can be a good thing.

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