I was an early reader. Not because of any particular excess of brain cells. It was a great activity for sloths.
Because my natural inclination leans toward the old saying of “Why run when you can walk, why walk can you can stand, why stand when you can sit and why sit when you can lie down?”
You might have heard it the other way around. I blame Benjamin Franklin. The man is the bane of us sloths and constantly took perfectly logical old sayings and galloped them backwards to suit his frenzied need to make every stinking second count.
For years, decades even, I despised this tendency to indolence. It was sinful, unattractive, unambitious. The cool kids were industrious, energetic. They were zippy.
I hated zippy. But I also hated the thought that I was lazy.
So I faked zip.
And, while no one would ever mistake me for a Type A workaholic (because when the slothful imitate the industrious, they do it at half-speed. It’s about all we can muster.), I don’t think people who know me would describe me as a layabout couch potato.
The faking works up to a point. I like to call that point “Point Adequate.” Stuff gets done by me. People get loved. Again by me. And while I cast longing eyes at my sofa, my book, my fluffy slippers, I’ve learned to fight the inner sloth who calls, (and always at adagio speed) “Just sit for a few minutes. One more chapter. One…more…chapter.”
But now that I’m older, even slower, and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve come to the understanding that I didn’t ask for this lethargic nature. I was born to it. It is born in me. Maybe—now that my kids are grown, my husband and I don’t generate small mountains of laundry a day and I don’t need to grocery shop and cook for 800 pounds of menfolk, run to hundreds of sporting events or lose precious moments of sleep waiting for a teen’s car to come in the driveway—maybe now I can appreciate sloths.
They are cute. Admit it.
Sloths are really in tune with wherever they are at the moment because they are never anywhere for just a moment. They’re there for a long time. Long enough to not only smell the roses, but to count each thorn and check for insects.
Sloths don’t make people nervous.
Sloths don’t make anyone feel guilty or inadequate. Because who can do less than a sloth?
A sloth will do what a sloth was created to do. Maybe no more, but definitely no less.
So. Now that I’m old enough to not have to prove anything to anyone, now that I am well past the cool kid stage, I’m going to go with it. Do what I was created to do. No more, but no less.
Permit me to close with a joke. My dad (the antithesis of a sloth) told it to me, and probably because of my affinity for the hero of the joke, it’s one of the few I remember.
A traveler to the mountains came across a young man lying on a hillock alongside the road, admiring the sky. The traveler explained he was lost, and asked, “Could you give me directions to the nearest town?”
The young man, not lifting his leg from where it rested on his other knee, pointed his foot south.
The incredulous traveler said, “If you can show me anything lazier than that, I’ll give you a fiver.”
The young man said, “Roll me over and put it in my back pocket.”
Very enlightening! Now I have a new basis of comparison when I berate myself for not accomplishing enough: the sloth. That creature will give me reasons for patting myself on the back more often. Maybe I’ve been comparing myself to wrong people (or animals) up to this point.
Incidentally, I agree–Ben Franklin might as well be the scapegoat. As far as making productive use of time, he set the bar too high. Who can compete?
Yes. We just have to hang out with people/critters who make us look good. And I’m sure the sloth won’t mind!