Since a little before starting this blog, I have read Tom Hodgkinson’s How to be Idle and How to be Free… and I am presently consuming the equally wonderful The Idle Parent (which, rather poignantly and synchronously, appeared before me on the “Recently Returned Books” shelf of the library, nearly exactly one year since the birth of my child!)… and so, three books, a few related websites & forums, many blog posts and many, many thoughts later, I feel it is time to provide an overall “update” (as it were) on my thoughts on Idling. To whit…
Hodgkinson’s books are highly entertaining. They are, to a degree, practical, although, if I’m honest, much of their content is philosophical and a big, witty, wise and highly sensible “rant” (if that’s not too strong a word) against The System – i.e. the modern, capitalist, work-and-technology-obsessed, western socio-political “system.” Which is all well and good, but, for myself at least (and I can’t really speak for anyone else), it is pretty difficult (okay, not impossible) to lead the sort of “Ideal Idle” lifestyle which Tom advocates. Attractive and admirable though it, in my opinion, is. I am coming to the realisation, however, at approaching halfway through The Idle Parent, that Mr H himself (a) was not always the idler he now professes to be (far from it, in fact); and (b) inasmuch as he suggests and advises on all Matters Idle, he makes a strong point (in The Idle Parent and possibly in his other works, although I would have to re-consult such to be sure) of not advocating aspiring towards any kind of “ideal” or “following of rules” – in fact, in The Idle Parent, with respect of parenting and “childcare,” his underlying assertion is that, as well as “leaving the kids alone,” one should find one’s own way, aside from whatever guidelines are being thrust upon us from government, books, the education system and so-called “experts,” and follow that.
So… idling… generally…
What’s it all about?
I suppose, in a nutshell, it’s about minimalism. Although perhaps that’s too simplistic. Although idling is also about simplicity! It’s about slowing down, doing as little “work” as possible (or at least making what work one does do enjoyable, and truly useful and satisfying), and finding one’s own path through life. It’s about questioning everything – accepting nothing as given and necessary. It’s about prioritising fun, relaxation and the joy of just being. It’s about living a more natural life – appreciating The Great Outdoors and the plentiful bounty of Nature. It’s about not being isolated, being “connected” in the old-fashioned sense, having friends and sharing the burden and the joy of existence. It’s about questioning everything we are told about society, how we are supposed to be, not letting the bastards grind you down. It’s about being FREE… in mind, in body, in spirit.
It’s about living in the now.
It’s about LIVING… 🙂 🙂 🙂
Since writing the above, I have finished reading The Idle Parent, and it strikes me that the term, “Idling,” is actually something of a misnomer. An idler’s life may be perceived, to the uninitiated, to be a slothful life, a lazy life, where one just sits around not doing much. Whereas in truth (according to the “philosophy” of Tom Hodgkinson), an idler’s life is a very busy life. Perhaps not “busy”… it is a full life. Particularly that of an idle parent. An idler does sit around pondering, try and get plenty of sleep and such things, but also he spends a lot of time playing, reading, eating, drinking, gardening, cooking, making things, conversing, laughing, singing, dancing and so on and so forth. An idler – a true Hodgkinsonian idler – is never bored!