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In Praise of Idleness

Updated on December 27, 2011

Growing up Baptist meant revering work. The ultimate sin was to be idle. Each hour of labour brought you closer to heaven. Being rich the ultimate state of grace.

The Easter Islanders must have had a simlar puritan strain. They busily axed their trees to build taller and taller moai until the island was laid bare, incarcerating themselves on their own island without enough wood to make a paddle much less an outrigger.

We lived in a paper town in New Brunswick so work meant turning logs into paper and wood chips. Each year the logging trucks rolled through town with thinner and thinner trees packed on to their trailers. In the last years my Dad joked these trees are too small to make into a fishing rod. The plant was disassembled and shipped to the Phillipines where fresh forests waited and my Dad moved to British Columbia. People marvelled at the wondeful chipper that could turn a trunk 4 foot in diameter into chips in only minutes. The logs arriving were so big they often needed to be split to fit in the chipper. The rings on the trees too dense too count. A yellow cedar that took a thousand years to grow, through centuries of history, snow and rain reduced to chips in minutes turned to chips in minutes. Everyone marvels at the towers of wood chips beside the chipping plant.

Somehow it makes me want to cry. It will take a 1000 years to replace that tree. Or even longer since the heavy rains wash away the topsoil that's accumulated over centuries. Comparing the splendour of the massive cedar trees to a pile of chips a travesty. And the same process is happening to the Atlantic salmon, now the sockeye salmon on the West Coast, the Atlantic cod, ... The process ever accelerating ... When will Jesus return again to clear the temple, to call again you have turned my Father's House into a den of thieves. I'm sure that Islam andJudaism have similar instructions to respect this pale blue marble in the the infinity of space we call home.

Instead of slowing down, we continue racing to abyss just like the Easter Islanders. Building higher and higher towers with our rapidly depleting raw resources. Will we be able to learn to slow down, consume less and enjoy the moment. This is my essay in praise of idleness.


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    • nanospeck profile image

      Akhil Anil 6 years ago

      I admire you for the effort you spent to write this.