Monday, April 03, 2006

The Runaway Train

You come home and you find your friend/spouse/kid sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and soda watching MTV/NFL/HSN; what do you make of it? Do you blow up or smile in approval? Is that sloth or rest? How do you know the difference?

Let’s start with the definitions. Sloth is beyond laziness, it is intentional avoidance of work or labor of any kind. Sloth is beyond sleepiness, it is forcing and training your body to the form of a couch or Laziboy. Rest is earned respite from a hard day’s work. Rest is the peace that comes from an overworked system finally being allowed to shut down.

So how do you know the difference between the two? Answer #1: No single event can be judged without its context. A wife came home to find her husband sleeping on the couch at 2:00 in the afternoon. She blew a gasket! Woke him and yelled at him and told him to get back to work. No event (sleeping on the couch) can be judged without its context. We don’t know if he was being slothful or simply resting. Would it help you to make that decision if you knew he was up all night finishing reports, studying, or dealing with a sick relative? Would it help you to know if he just started that job, the 5th job in a month, and now is home sleeping again? Would it help you to know that he just got home from the hospital with a mild heart attack? You need to know the context so don’t just blow a gasket, find out the reasons.

Answer #2: Sloth takes time to perfect, like a fine wine. No one can sit in a couch or on a chair all day without a little bit of practice. Your body simply does not work that way unless you train it to or drug it into submission. Sloth is not a single event, it is a lifestyle. Rest is an event. Rest can be scheduled or spontaneous but it has a start and a finish. Rest has an alarm clock, sloth has a calendar.

Answer #3: Sloth saps your energy, rest builds up your energy. Slothful people are ALWAYS tired whereas rested people are, well, rested and ready to get started again.

Answer #4: Sloth will often have a psychosis attached to it of some kind. It might be depression or anger or fear or whatever, but sloth never walks alone.

Laziness can be adjusted with good, consistent discipline but sloth is like a slow moving, fully loaded, runaway train you are fighting to catch up to and stop. Beware of a steep grade; catch yourself and your loved ones in time before it is too hard to stop it.

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