5 juin 2008

Avec l'âge vient la paresse?

I think it is in our nature to be lazy. We work, most of us, only if and when we think we have to (though a number of our civilization's guilt trips and propaganda techniques can make us feel we have to when we really don't). Liberals and conservatives alike deplore lazyness (through they don't agree on what that is). We are told that we get out of our lives (and relationships, and communities) only what we put into them. Loitering in many places is criminal behaviour. Idleness is "the devil's workshop", we are told. We are indoctrinated to believe that a good marriage (or equivalent) takes continuous hard work. That anything worth doing is worth doing well. That time is something we 'invest', carefully and diligently, to generate an optimal 'return', or else it is 'wasted'. And a person who does not keep busy is described as indolent, a word that, tellingly, originally meant incapable of feeling pain.

Despite the propaganda, I think we (and all creatures) are inherently disinclined to do hard work. All this industry is, after all, responsible for most of the pollution, global warming, suburban sprawl and much of the other environmental destruction that is desolating our Earth. The words conservative and conservation both mean to keep things unchanged, leave things as they are.

So I was initially inclined to chalk up my boomer cohort's growing work-fatigue (and my own) to lazyness. But if that were so, we wouldn't have worked so hard, on so many ambitious and ultimately largely fruitless causes, when we were younger. My aversion to taking on responsibility and new commitments is a relatively new personality quirk. When I was younger I wanted more responsibility (because with it came authority) -- "power to the people" meant responsibility as well, and we were ready.

It's not that I've become more irresponsible or noncommittal. I still care just as much. I thought to ascribe it, then, to getting older, to having less energy. I used to love to flirt, but damn it's hard work. And if you're not careful, you end up with the object of your attention, some way-too-young-for-you thing, expecting more from you, and then when they open their mouth and say something really boneheaded and your eyes roll back in your head and you run for the hills and say to yourself "Whew, dodged a bullet there". Whereas if it had happened twenty years earlier, well...

David Pollard, Are We Boomers Getting Lazy, or Are We Just Getting Old?

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