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  • Trayambak Chakravarty

The Importance of Being Idle

For a large part of the pandemic, I have spent time doing nothing. I have sat around, looked at walls, fidgeted with things, but in all that I have thought about nothing. Trust me, this is the most cleansing experience you can have.

We underestimate the power of the time that we spend being idle. I learnt it early on, when a teacher of mine would constantly tell us, “Don’t sit ideally”, and I always wondered why that was a bad thing. In defiance, I made an effort to sit more “ideally”, spending whole schooldays looking out of the window and at the blank blackboard. It has served me extremely well. Not thinking about anything let me analyse things that seemed idiotic in a much warmer, healthier and relatable way. In the 9th grade, for example, I observed a family of birds in a tree near my class for a whole month, even writing a blog post about how I wanted to wrestle the elder son (who knows what they were to each other I didn’t care), but in the end a story I wrote about them in my English final paper got the teacher to praise my creativity, but in private, like it was a very shameful thing. If you want to fight birds, you should be able to, I do not care.

Sitting idle has also allowed me to make more mental notes of how I feel about things, how I should approach them and how to not confront them. This attitude has helped me get out of innumerable things and surely, meditation is the same thing. Why do we make such a huge deal out of it? It isn’t so fancy. Just sit somewhere and think about nothing. Wacky things happen. One day it occurred to me that the Aam Aadmi Party must be a deeply sexist organisation for not naming themselves Aam Insaan Party.

It is also remarkable how much of our lifetimes we spend in idleness, despite our best efforts. Waiting for my passport, driving license, Aadhar card and all other government applications were some of the most useless hours of my life, but if you asked someone randomly, everyone has a hilarious story to take out from their experience of these places. For example, while I was in line to get my PAN card, I saw a man in front of me get out of line, put a stone on his seat, take a bath on the street outside and come back to his original seat. He was refreshed. What an idea. Idleness is underrated and we should enjoy it more.

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