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What If: People Couldn’t Be Lazy?



   Eyes snap to attention with a laser-sharp crackle. Postures straighten, feet poised in precise ergonomical perfection. Eyes are trained intently on the presentation, on the scenery, on the homework, pens and paintbrushes scribbling away in furious manifestations of continuous mental activity. There are two ways this scene concludes: with electricity-filled inspiration blossoming onto the page or laptop screen, paving the way for innovation the next day––or with anxiety-ridden doodles filling up a page, later crumpled and discarded in frustration.

   Without laziness, work ethic can be stronger, as seen in the former results. Journalists complete their transcriptions the day of and pump out streamlined articles within hours; students study so early for the test teachers are overwhelmed by the timeliness of their inquiries; teams finish their projects months ahead of time without the caffeine-filled, late-night dozings and the hydrating face-mask sessions on the weekends to avoid the thought of impending deadlines on that research paper. Productivity boosts team morale, and the reverse is also true.

   But when work ethic persists all the way through, humans can easily fall into a spiral of concentrated, arrow-straight work. The direction of their lives grows highly linear, the pace accelerated to a frenzied, flashy streak of new information registered and spit out robotically. Humans become machines in order to survive the breakneck meteor of 21st century life when they lack a proper coping mechanism.

   With laziness, we have a respite. In a society where technology is so advanced and novelty requires such out-of-the-box thought, progress can hardly be achieved without taking a moment to breathe and stepping back to see the full picture. It needs nighttime meditation, pensive scrawls of poetry in the afternoons, wistful rumination on rainy mornings, doing nothing but softly inhaling a mug of coffee, letting one’s mind dissolve into blankness. The cumbersome act of re-lighting kerosene lamps and candles perhaps was Edison’s muse when crafting a practical incandescent light bulb, and the sweat of slaves and human labor helped drive classical Greeks to create the wheelbarrow when constructing massive temples to their gods. Laziness and the need to seek a shortcut carves out this space, this void, this vast chamber of liberated and buoyant air which allows for calm, deliberate innovation. This is what distinguishes us from our mechanical brethren and allows us to widen the scope of our century’s progress––where invention and progress well up from the cracks in curling filaments of rapt, embryonic creative energy.