Copyright 2001 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved



Crank's Corner: Commentary by Linda Marcas


                                              Totally Unproductive


    It's ten o'clock on Sunday night, and I've spent the entire day avoiding any constructive activity
whatsoever.  We had guests last night, and I stayed up way too late because we were having such a good
time.  I woke up around noon.  Hubby made breakfast for us, I read for a while, fell asleep for a couple of
hours, and then woke up and read some more.  I really haven't done a thing all day except to start writing
this column.  So, why do I feel so tired?  I have a theory: I'm tired because I spent the day undecided.

    Being totally unproductive is harder than you might think.  All day, I've been fighting the urge to
find some interesting project or useful chore such as designing a necklace or doing the dishes.  It was a
long, drawn-out battle; nothing I thought of appealed to me enough to make me get off my duff and do it.
It's a good thing that this column is due by noon tomorrow, or I'd still be sitting here and playing "Freecell"
instead of writing.

    I've had days like this before, and, from past experience, I should know better than to let inertia
and sloth get the better of me, because I just end up feeling restless and depressed by my lack of ambition.
Don't get me wrong; I'm a firm supporter of the "sit quietly, do nothing" school of thought when it comes to
relaxing and re-charging one's batteries in order to face the fray of daily life.  The difference is, on most
occasions, I choose to sit around and be a complete bum.

    My mistake today was not making that choice.  Instead, I spent the day struggling with guilt-
inducing "shoulds" and "coulds", obstinately rejecting any and all impulses toward activity while still
thinking that I might feel like doing something "later", when I might be more in the mood.  As a result of
my refusal to decide to do nothing, I wasted what would have been a perfectly enjoyable lazy Sunday and
turned it into a day of aimless fidgets.

    "Doing nothing" is not the same thing as being totally unproductive; it is possible to "produce" a
sense of well-being and calm while doing nothing, especially if your definition of doing nothing is rather
broad.  A perfect day of doing nothing, for me, involves lounging around in a caftan, a late breakfast, a
pitcher of Bloody Marys, guests who've spent the night but don't have to leave anytime soon, doing the
Sunday crossword in ink, and a marathon round of Scrabble.

    To other people, a day spent like that might sound like sheer torture, or at least terminally boring.
Some people go fishing, or play golf, or watch football; there's no accounting for taste.  The important thing
is to be fully committed to the "nothing" you prefer to do.  Don't even think about the laundry, the dishes,
the lawn, or the giant dust bunnies lurking under the bed.  If you're going to do nothing, you must focus on
doing it right.

     As my day today just proved, the worst thing you can do when you feel like doing nothing is to
remain indecisive and ambivalent about it, picking up and rejecting ideas like someone giving dirty socks a
"sniff test" before deciding which pair is fresh enough to wear again.  Never be apathetic about laziness,
because it only leads to a state of jittery paralysis that is totally unproductive.  Even worse, all that
indecision is counter-productive, because it adds insult to injury by leaving you in a state of fretful
exhaustion.

     I'm sure there are some fortunate people out there who are never troubled by a day of being totally
unproductive, either because they are the sort of people who can't sit still and must always be busy, busy,
busy, or because, through long practice or natural inclination, they have mastered the fine points of doing
nothing.  But if my wasted day sounds familiar to you, remember the lesson that I forgot: if you're too lazy
to make the decision to be lazy, you'll be doomed to spend your time being totally unproductive.



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