Having a sick day means you have a lot of time to sit about and wait for medication to do its work, and for the body to try to adjust itself back to normal, in between bouts of passing out and waking to discover you have missed the “Showcase Showdown”, or the revelation that Victor had a mistress who bore him twins while he was married to former pole dancer Nikki, i.e. wife no.’s #2 and #7. It also means that you have some time to catch up on non-work-related matters, such as emptying out the sock drawer and sorting the contents into pairs (easier if you wear argyle socks, in the main.) In my experience, just because you feel like death does not mean you are going to be completely unproductive.
When you reach a certain age or point of maturity, the fact that you are not at work is something that becomes troublesome. Back in school, if you missed a day of class chances are you would not fret about it very much. However when you care about doing a good job, and care perhaps more, at times, than you do about your own best interests, you have a tendency to do things that eventually will end up injuring you, such as skipping meals or not sleeping enough.
Just as in the case of socks, in life things often come in pairs. For example, if you do not get enough sleep, you will get more than enough dysfunction. Eventually, if you do not make it a point to try to get a good number of hours each evening, your body will start punishing you, if you do not make it a priority to step away from punishing it.
Similarly, if you do not make your ongoing education a priority, you will suffer the consequences. Most of us when we finish school, unless we happen to make our careers in academia of one variety or another, are all too ready to put aside the assigned reading from thick books full of jargon, and the journal articles on esoteric subjects, because we are going out into the “real world”, where we make or sell widgets, and must pay for things like mortgages, vet bills, and ballet lessons. The last thing we want to do, when we have some free time, is to try to get our heads around something that requires a bit more brain power than simply firing the correct neuron to turn the channel.
And yet look around you, at whatever form of media, old or new, you choose. We are surrounded by an ongoing, childish dialogue hallmarked by ignorance and idiocy. We learn, and are eager to learn, “news” about pop stars or athletes, as if learning this knowledge actually meant something other than entertainment: it doesn’t.
There are many goals, no doubt, that each of us are trying to achieve in this new year. In addition to the more mundane things I am working on, like making time for sleep, gaining weight, and keeping better order at the manse, I am working on improving and augmenting my existing writing efforts, appearing more widely in new media outlets, and so on. Yet I am also very conscious of the fact that if there is no desire to improve my knowledge of the world around me, then all of these things are nothing more than vanity projects.
The pair, if you will, to willful ignorance is inevitable decay. The more we celebrate ignorance, the more we denigrate our society, to the point where our alleged achievements have little or no value other than as a distraction from the fact that we are creating nothing of value. If we are not challenging ourselves to learn more and thereby do better, then we are wasting the opportunities we have been given to use our leisure as a way of fostering a vibrant culture.
As you go about following your resolutions to make improvements this year, gentle reader, take some time to question whether these are goals set purely for personal pleasure, or whether there is something that you will be doing to encourage a revitalization of our society. We have in recent years become too satisfied with complaining about the state of our culture without taking steps to do something to change it. If those of us who cared about such things would actually take the time to study, debate, and thereby learn more about history, the arts and sciences, spirituality and the like, imagine what could be achieved. Rather than being the regretted odd sock, our culture would find its mate in a practical insistence on achieving better standards for all.
This could take some time…