In praise of loafing

HM Government propaganda.

I am first and foremost a thinker, t’was ever thus, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told, “You think too much,” even at University. Yet I adore thinking and I love storing things on my back burner, leaving my mind to sort it out without any conscious input or effort on my part. The way answers pop up, seemingly from nowhere, fully formed and ready to go is amazing and has led to thousands of eureka moments.

To name but one. Observing babies and young children I realised that they were doing something that we cease to do as we get older and educated. I couldn’t figure it out easily so shoved it on the back burner. The fully formed eureka moment was that babies learn organically, or intuitively, by doing. They explore the world with their bodies, not even having a language with which to call it anything or express it, yet they learn by absorption at a fantastic rate. I set out to (re)discover this for myself, firstly by walking barefoot on grass, something which captivated my attention and focused it on the experience without encumbering it with language or explanation. A whole new world opened up to me in that moment.

I suppose it is a natural extension of being a thinker that I became a writer. Having had a piss poor education, writing did not come easily and was something I had to learn over many years of stumbling and bumbling. In both cases, thinking and writing require space and time, if nothing else, to percolate. They come through patience and by seemingly not doing much – loafing. I am an expert loafer or layabout, providing myself with quality time to just be. Thinking and writing, for me, happen best when I strive the least. I have learnt to trust the process and never force myself to do either.

Loafing is an almost ecstatic state of being. Right now I am making almost no effort to write, the ideas arise of their own volition. I sometimes write notes, but they are just signposts for where I want to go in a piece, the substance rises organically or I may discard a note and go somewhere else entirely following the linear procession of thoughts as they arise.

There are always pauses in writing, during which I wander off and make coffee, lunch, do the washing up, go shopping, lay down and read a book, sleep. Something always bubbles up, effortlessly.

I’ve never been a high earner, what some describe as successful, as long as I can get by I’d rather do what I love and money grubbing is a pain in the arse at the best of time. I’ve done more than enough of it to know I hate it passionately. It is infinitely better being poor and doing what you love than doing something you don’t want to do year on year and ending up with what? Money? Self loathing? My experience of money in the world we live in is that there is nothing it cannot ruin, especially dreams. In recent government propaganda, they showed a picture of a dancer with the caption, ‘Fatima’s next job could be cyber. (she just doesn’t know it yet). Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ The ignorance and the patronising insult couldn’t be greater, as if we can simply reprogram to suit the government’s agenda of work, work, work, till we drop dead (their preferred outcome to paying the pension we’ve paid into all our working lives). To which any sensible person would say, “Fuck right off!”

Hold on to your dreams, they are a real and present blessing in a world that is increasingly hostile. Take the time to nurture them, dive in and loaf to fuck. It’s good for you.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron aka KOG. 28 October 2020.

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