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November 18, 2022

The benefits of laziness!

Yes, you read that right! A friend asked me to go for a walk with him on a new path in the woods. I first declined his offer because the vacuum was parked on my kitchen floor, ready to be put to good use sucking up all the bits and crumbs left behind after a busy week.
— “Hey there, Cora”, answers my friend Éric, “thumb your nose at the vacuum. The weather is a bit chilly, but we can certainly walk at least 3 good kilometers.”
— “I don’t think so.”
— “You know, Cora, instead of sanding the floor in your nearly spotless kitchen, you should write about the benefits of laziness.”
— “Well, maybe!”

That is how we ended up walking in single file down a narrow path, just on the edge of a forest. The weather was perfect for a stroll in nature, especially with several clusters of wildflowers embellishing our path along the way. “Why not admire them?” is what I thought to myself. The damned dust can certainly wait until I get back home. Enchanted by the landscape, I walk at a brisk pace. And wouldn’t you know it, a bird of ill fate reminds me that sloth was one of the seven deadly sins as described by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the XIIth century. I’m almost certain that these perilous vices are still part of the Catholic Church’s catechism.

The sky above darkens just thinking about it. I implore the great trees to give me wisdom. Wasn't it when we formed a young flock? A time when the confessor’s bullying forced us to invent anything just to get away? I have never been lazy, or at the very least, I have always been very quick to accomplish what I enjoyed doing. To knit a large sweater in a single week, draw a picturesque landscape before going to bed, pick four pints of strawberries while others pick two, sow a nice dress in an evening and embroider a few flowers on the collar. It was all child’s play to me. I have always been a hard worker. And when I had to go into the world to earn a living for my children and myself, it was full steam ahead, working very long hours on most days. I thrived on projects, praises and awards.

And for the very first time in my life, as I walk on this narrow nature path, I have to admit that I was greedy. I was overly ambitious. I finally exhausted my appetite for conquering new cities and I’m quite pleased with what I achieved. Now I can spend time contemplating the splendid pines and the intense red of dying maple leaves. And I also want to consider my dear friend’s suggestion.

Of course I can write about the benefits of laziness. Like the neighbour’s orange cat, why wouldn’t I roll in the lawn and inhale all the goodness nature has to offer, like the scent of the recently planted lilac bush? Slowing down will help me improve my physical and mental health. With more time to reflect, I can learn to appreciate the slow lane.

Doing things slowly is also a wonderful way of being present in the world. Writing almost every day is making me a happier, more balanced woman, who is ever more creative. And it’s all thanks to you, dear readers. Will I be able to sit down on a tree stump and simply listen to my dear friends, the crows, and get to know and love them?

I recently ordered a book titled How to Be Idle: A Loafer's Manifesto at the local bookstore. In this 304-page book, author Tom Hodgkinson advocates for a lifestyle based on the small pleasures of everyday life. The book is perfect at my age. “Idleness brings health, creativity and time to be spent with loved ones,” writes the author. Perhaps it is this idleness that is stimulating my newfound creativity? I must admit that everything I did then was necessary for our wonderful company to flourish. And now I realize that I have reached the “dessert” portion of the journey. I increasingly have the feeling that I’m on vacation. I take in the soft scent of the flowers, I listen to the cicadas and marvel at the wild mulberry trees full of ripe fruit. Nearly every day now, I realize that slowing down allows me to breathe more easily and to calmly welcome the ideas that emerge. I am in a much better place to greet Lady Inspiration when she visits me. And, each time, I am even more prolific.

Author Tom Hodgkinson claims that resting activates various parts of our brains and that we are sharper after a good night’s sleep. Thank goodness I have retired and have learned to slow things down. Slow living. Never would I have believed that one day I would sing the praises of laziness!

My poor mother thought laziness to be the mother of all vices. I understand what she meant. She worked relentlessly, from dawn to dusk, her reddened hands raw from eczema. Mom would have preferred death to indulging in a little afternoon nap. Would she have dared to close her eyes before the house was spic and span? Not a chance! She would have turned her back on laziness and started washing her husband’s clothes or crossed off making jam from her list. Our little undergarments were immaculate. I remember it so well! The clothesline was forever holding up a huge load of towels that needed folding almost daily. Not to mention all the clothes that needed ironing and socks that needed mending. Did she ever rest on a lawn chair on a summer’s day? I don’t think she ever did.

Mom was “earning her place in heaven,” as the parish priest used to say. She passed at 64, tired, worn out and much too young to leave us.