Things That I Do Not Do



The Sluggard

by Isaac Watts

Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,
"You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again."
As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
Turns his sides and his shoulders and his heavy head.



"A little more sleep, and a little more slumber;"
Thus he wastes half his days, and his hours without number,
And when he gets up, he sits folding his hands,
Or walks about sauntering, or trifling he stands.



I pass'd by his garden, and saw the wild brier,
The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher;
The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags;
And his money still wastes till he starves or he begs.



I made him a visit, still hoping to find
That he took better care for improving his mind:
He told me his dreams, talked of eating and drinking;
But scarce reads his Bible, and never loves thinking.



Said I then to my heart, "Here's a lesson for me,"
This man's but a picture of what I might be:
But thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding,
Who taught me betimes to love working and reading.

I was raised to believe that boredom is a sin. My years in the cult taught me that it was actually one of the Seven Deadly Sins - namely sloth. Doing absolutely nothing with ones time (wait, does this include Facebook?) is a dangerous pastime, as they like to say - an idle mind is the Devil's playground. I know for me, days of nothingness, with no business to occupy my brain, my mind wanders to all kinds of places it shouldn't, and before long, my Adoring Husband is having sordid affairs with the local bakery, my children have taken on demonic characteristics, and my house has transformed into a shrine to despair and hopelessness. My sister says I should do more dishes, but since I only have my coffee cup to wash, that seems kind of short lived and silly. I could put away the ironing board and iron that I stare at resentfully as it reminds me of the bitter task of hemming MacKenzie's Cadet Corp pants that I accomplished last night. I could go out into the biting chill and plant the bulbs that I have been watching lay by the door for a week. I could go down and switch the laundry to wash that last fateful load of bleachable whites and any unfortunate colored items that didn't squeeze into the last non-bleach load. But I can also do all of those things tomorrow. And if I do them today, what on earth will I do tomorrow?

I have already accomplished so much today. If one considers driving for 15 minutes each way and giving rosy answers to bulk manufactured interview questions in  a process that was strangely reminiscent of pushing cattle through a branding iron line an accomplishment. I also started that last colored load, made myself coffee and emptied the garbage cans that Halle forgot. I have two more appointments today, one of which is less than 30 minutes away, which precludes me from planting bulbs but would still allow me to put away the ironing board. I will consider it.

I know that some of my self deprecating blogs leave y'all with the image of me in sweatpants, lounging on my couch with Bones playing incessantly in the background and a perpetual cup of coffee with heavy cream in my hand, but really that's my fantasy life. My real life is about the frustration of jeans that don't fit and the intense mental debate about whether to try to carry all six bags of groceries from Safeway to the car, or push the cart all the way, and if there's any way to justify buying a latte at Dutch Brothers when all I have had to eat this morning is coffee. I mean, as far as calories go, I can certainly write off at least an Americano with cream as long as I don't get lunch after my facial with Clare. But money wise, since I am pretty sure I will turn down any job I get offered as a result of these interviews that I did mediocrely well at, it's just not fiscally responsible to go cavorting through the Dutch Bros drive thru. Although I do have a free one on my punch card...

I am guilty of NOT staying busy. I am. I am goal oriented and like to organize my tasks in order to meet deadlines. I need something to work toward. (all of these were great lines to throw out in my interviews too, so I have lots of practice saying them.) I planned a barbeque for Saturday JUST so I'd have a compelling reason to clean the house really well tomorrow. Now that more people are backing out than coming to it, I am seeing a Friday full of sweatpants and maybe baking cookies. I did buy that flour just because Grandma Lee's Gingersnap recipe has been whispering to me from my cupboard. (check back for THE BEST gingersnap recipe EVER.) So this is my work out: get up. Pick up that stupid magazine that's been cluttering the coffee table for two weeks. Fold up the ironing board. Put away the laundry. Get BUSY. Ok fine. Right after my facial. 

And Just to drive that one home:

Against Idleness And Mischief

Isaac Watts

HOW doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
How skillfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labours hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.
In works of labour or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.
In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.


*both Isaac Watts poems are from "Divine Songs For Children" - and both poems I was compelled to write  and re-write multiple times as a child. excellent disciplinary tactic. feel free to use it. 

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