There was one problem with my philosophy of the elevating power of work: I was fundamentally lazy and ineffective, physically and mentally. Perhaps everyone was (There are lots of synonyms for laziness in English: Indolence, slothfulness… It’s a cultural pre-occupation), but most people seemed far better at resisting it.
Was my inertia learned from my parents? They were relatively hard working but disliked it. Maybe it was literally inherited from them – a biological inefficiency at metabolising food, or something. Whatever the reason, I’ve always found it incredibly difficult to muster the energy or the resourcefulness to be useful or pursue a goal dynamically. I’d always rather be drifting off into a dwam than knuckling down, being told what to do than weighing up alternatives and planning a course of action. While you are finding solutions to life’s problems, and putting them into action, I’m almost certainly sitting there with some inane gif playing in my head.
It’s not as if I’m laid back. In fact, I’m pretty stressed about it. Currents of anxious energy play around my body, like those wavering lines of electricity in a Van de Graaf generator, but they’re too weak to break out into action, most of the time.
Writing provides me with the perfect excuse. A writer can justify gazing out the window all day because they’re waiting for inspiration, they’re thinking things through. Left on my own all day with a small amount of housework to do, I’ll come to myself in the evening and realise I haven’t done any of it, because I’ve been “working”, which takes priority. I’ll probably have written half a dozen lines, over 3 or 4 separate, half-baked writing projects, which will never be finished, and stressed myself out.
So I have a Work Ethic I aspire to and attempt, but don’t live by. What activity I manage is driven by a need to guard against my indolence, to constantly push back the warm tide of sleepy inactivity that is always threatening to overwhelm my brain. All my efforts go into just resisting the pull of lethargy, doing something, anything at all, to drive myself away from my natural state of weakness and torpor.