I read W.H. Davies in school.

‘What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.’

The poet, I thought, was clearly pointing out how vile and useless my life was because I had practically no time to ‘do nothing’! Who else, otherwise, would stand and just stare? How lucky, he told me, were the cows who could go on gazing into nothingness, and yet, yes…exist. Finally, right in the end he said in so many words, what I had been dreading the most:

‘A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.’

My life, was indeed, poor.

I was at an impressionable age and the poet just about managed to get me. Although, I wasn’t exactly there as yet.

I began to take ‘being idle’ as a serious vocation when another fellow reinstated the idea in my mind.

It was first year of college and Jerome K. Jerome was the first writer featured in a book containing pieces of twenty-five essayists. Now, if they thought it was apt to begin an academic session quoting ‘Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow’, I don’t think you could penalise me for taking them seriously.

But ‘On Being Idle’ was slightly different from Davies’ standing and staring. This fellow pointed out that there is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do! In short, stay busy and yet find time to stare!!!

I was in a fix. I now needed to ‘steal idleness like kisses’ so that it may seem sweet. It was going to be a challenge and yet, I chose it to be my idyllic ambition.

At the end of college, my father, like all Indian dads wished to know my ‘future plans’. I told him higher studies in Literature was it because I would then have the perfect combination of being engaged (or so I thought) and finding time to, once again, stare.

Post-Graduation happened and once again the inevitable question popped up. This time I managed to tell him that I didn’t intend working. My arguments, I thought, made perfect sense. Idler’s were extremely essential to restore balance in a world so pre-occupied with working.

However, much that I tried I continued to struggle for many years to be the perfect idler who met both conditions laid down by the two writers I so much revered.

Initially, I picked up teaching but that left me with no time for idling. Hence, mine was a poor life. Later, I quit my job. But then I had so much free time that idleness didn’t seem sweet anymore.

So, how was I to strike the perfect balance? I was struggling hard to be the perfect idle when writing found me. I shuffled between editing books to minting words to taking up projects at the drop of a hat.

Writing helped me to reach the ‘Ideal Idle’ situation, where I wasn’t ‘slouching with my hands in my pocket’. I was ‘intensely busy’ with enough time ‘to stand and stare’. I had finally become Jerome’s ‘rare and genuine idler’.


This blog is a part of #Blogchatter’s AtoZChallenge2019. You may read my other blogs that are a part of AtoZ here

Happy reading. Do visit gain!

19 thoughts on “An IDLER’S Tale”

  1. Awesome. What I got from this is that, when we find the thing that we love to do, that makes the space or rest in between the activities worth and fulfilling.

  2. Being a fan of Jerome K Jerome and having penned a couple of books containing “Idle’ in the titles, I can relate with your feelings on idleness. I agree that idleness loses its charm when you have nothing obligatory to do.

  3. Hahaha! This is amazingly penned, Sonia! Loved your creativity. And these lines… “Idler’s were extremely essential to restore balance in a world so pre-occupied with working.” Had me giggling in full volume. Did your Dad accept that as a valid reason, by the way? 😛
    I have to bookmark this post… will have to come back to it after AtoZ and read the full versions of those pieces you have quoted here.
    You know that bit about finding the “ideal idleness” is quite deep. I never thought of it that way.

    Find my I post @ 15 Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Blog Content | How To Find New Post Ideas

  4. I loved how you interspersed this post with some fabulous and very meaningful poetry. I also loved that you have managed to find the ideal balance – never easy but immensely rewarding! Kudos! 🙂

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