If you think that I’m lazy, I probably could shrug it off. But if I considered myself lazy, it would be a blow to my self-esteem.
That’s because you and I almost certainly have different standards by which we judge laziness. We know that it’s bad to be lazy or slothful. The “seven deadly sins” count it as the fourth of these sins, right behind lust, gluttony, and greed.
But of all the things that we do – or don’t do – what do we mean when we say that someone is lazy? I reflected on this today after coming back from a hike in the mountains. When I got back home, I went to the bathroom, drank a glass of sugar-free lemonade, ate an apple, and turned on the air-conditioning for the first time this year, because it’s a 95-degree day here in Boulder. Then, I took off my sweaty clothes and relaxed on the bed.
By my standards not even lying down was being lazy. All of those activities that I just mentioned were things that I did to take care of my body. That’s been my standard for more than 30 years.
In the mid-1970’s I studied with the South American spiritual leader Oscar Ichazo for four years. He founded the Arica Institute, and I lived in Arica houses during that time.
I immersed myself so deeply in the Arica culture that eventually I had to get back into the world. Yet much of what Oscar taught me guides my life even today. What is laziness for one.
Oscar’s definition of laziness is so appropriate and yet so radical that I have always remembered it. He says that one big way we can be lazy is when we don’t take care of our body.
Now that I have diabetes, I appreciate that definition all the more. Everything that we do to control our diabetes is to help our body – everything we eat – or don’t eat – all the exercise we get, and all the pills or insulin we take.
Even when it may appear to others that we “aren’t doing anything,” we may well be taking care of our bodies. Nothing is as inactive as sleeping, yet many people with diabetes suffer from getting too little of it, as I have written here. Many of us also have sleep apnea, which I have also written about here.
Even what looks like day-dreaming isn’t necessarily being lazy. I know too well how I mentally criticized my first wife when it looked like she was just staring off into space. Now that I am older and more mature, I realize that what she was doing – or not doing – was productive for her.
Now I get many of my best ideas for my work when I move away from this computer. Like when I’m hiking. Or specifically when I got the idea for this article as I relaxed on the bed after the hike this morning.
The ideas just come when I let go of doing something. Ironically, when we keep on working nonstop we can be mentally lazy. Good thing too, because my first priority is taking care of my body. It’s all I have.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.