It is Two Hours Before Shabbat
and, except for when I put on some clothes and went out in the rain to get some food we needed, I have accomplished nothing of note, except that I read some interesting articles in the NY Times about HeLa cells, which is all fascinating but doesn't help me do the things I need to do.
Lately I've been thinking about unproductivity, and why I'm sometimes (OK, often) unproductive, and about some other people I know who, also, are often unproductive, and I've been thinking about why this happens, and how we judge ourselves, and how other people judge us.
I've been thinking about what laziness is.
If someone is unproductive because they have a physical illness -- something acute, like the flu, or something chronic, like my mother's Familial Mediterranean Fever -- it is usually easy for people to understand and forgive.
To a lesser extent, if someone is unproductive because they are going through an episode of clinical depression, the people around them MIGHT understand and MIGHT forgive, depending on whether there has been a formal diagnosis, whether the person is cooperating with their doctor (ie, taking their meds), and the extent to which those "others" can wrap their minds around the idea that depression is physical. There is a lot of stigma attached to unproductivity that isn't caused by any obvious physical problem, unproductivity that, it appears, is "all in one's head." Still, if there is a diagnosis, these days more and more people "get it."
But if a person isn't in the midst of any formal physical or psychiatric "episode" or chronic problem, what does it mean if that person (for example, me, often) just can't "get their act together"? What is going on when a person is just "lazy"? Why is it so easy for some people to get up in the morning and "get moving," and for others it is so damn hard?
I think of myself and about other people in my life who so badly want to be "movers and shakers," who have the intelligence and talent and ambition to do a whole lot in very little time. But we can't; we feel like we can't. Sometimes we are blamed -- told that we can, we just don't, that we just feel entitled or privileged or selfish or are simply happy to let other people work while we do nothing-- and sometimes we believe it and feel terrible.
I have the feeling that someday -- probably not in my lifetime -- science will catch up with this. I also have the feeling that it's tied up somehow with metabolism. So much is related to how our bodies burn fuel, that we don't understand or begin to even consider. Perhaps someday this attribute of being productivity-challenged will be given a name, and then it will carry less blame and less shame.
Or maybe we are, after all, just lazy.
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