Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Well, here I am the morning after MLK Day, faced with the classic bourgeois dilemma. My boss is out of town this week - and I mean WAY out of town, lounging in a tropical paradise straight out of some depressing Conrad story. This provides me with an unparalleled opportunity to distinguish myself in her absense and catapult myself to the front of the pack with my bold initiative and thorough stewardship of our company's network.

It also provides me with an unparalleled opportunity to goof off.

So what shall it be, dear reader? To be honest, the question presented is one with which I've wrestled since I was in the third grade - why struggle? What is the point, exactly, of getting ahead? If I worked at this pace (an almost criminally lax one) for the rest of my life, I could provide myself and my family with all the creature comforts we need and then some. I could drink Beefeater and tonic and take walks in the park and retire in comfortable obscurity to the mountains of West Virginia or upstate New York or New Orleans or any other place I like. Barring a catastrophe, I am set for life, even in George Bush's America.

So why struggle? Is there some truth to the protestant work ethic, this idea that productive effort is itself desirable, for some reason other than the value of what it actually produces?

In a word, yes. Particularly for a person like myself, who tends to avoid anxiety through inaction and wild imaginings, there is inherent value in working tirelessly towards a goal. Stretching one's personality toward a different mode of activity than the comfortable one - in this case, the comfortable mode is sloth - has immediate benefits and subtler, long-term ones.

This is not to recommend this course of action to anyone else. Indeed, plunging oneself into action is probably harmful for the many people who tend to feel most comfortable when working productively. For them, productive effort may be a barrier to progress. It may behoove such a person to sit down, take a deep breath, and start a blog, for example.

In my case, my blog is a way to avoid the anxious task of getting to work, already.

So get to work already, you sluggard!


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