Idle Hands

Rhodi 1Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Ever heard that one? My parents brushed off this gem every time I whined about having to work.

At the time I’m sure I rolled my eyes and mumbled some smart-ass remark under my breath. I didn’t start swearing like a sailor until I moved out, so there’s that. I also didn’t understand what the hell they were talking about. I just assumed they didn’t want me to be lazy.

Now, I’m grateful. Not that they had cheesy clichés for every time I wasn’t doing what they wanted, but that they cared enough to correct me and guide me to be a productive human being. I’m sure they could have found better ways to do it, but they didn’t do anything a few years of therapy couldn’t fix.

But that’s another post…

R.J. shared something from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday with me and it reminded me of the ‘idle hands’ saying. Holiday was talking about how when we don’t exercise or use our minds for a while we start to feel out-of-sorts, grumpy even. Bored is probably in there, too.

I know I get like that when I’ve had a bunch of home improvement projects to do and all of a sudden they’re finished and then it seems like I suddenly don’t have anything else to do. I usually flail around for a bit until I settle on something else. It’s probably why I’m always crocheting or cross-stitching or something like that.

Now that I think about it that’s probably why R.J. always makes sure I have the supplies I need to complete at least two projects around the house. Huh, I just thought he didn’t want me to be lazy like my parents back in the day. Maybe there is something to this transference thing in psychology after all.

I’m not going to lie. I still feel a twinge of envy when I see people’s vacation pictures and posts. I still get angry when I see my neighbors lounging around their backyard while I’m sweating my ass off in mine to keep the gardens looking nice.

Irrational, unproductive, and just plain stupid, I know. Because the work I do helps me. It keeps me focused. It allows me to process negative emotions and bad things that happen in such a way that I can learn from them and use them to my benefit.

The work I do fills the voids so that I don’t have to fill them with useless crap I can’t afford or focusing on what other people are doing or food. Let’s not forget about emotional eating. Or eating out of boredom. There are plenty of destructive ways to fill the voids in our lives.

But work, something that stretches our minds and bodies, is probably the only thing that we can fill the voids with that actually has ROI – Return on Investment. Not all the time, we do need balance, but I think work has literally become a four-letter word these days. It’s become something distasteful. Something only workaholics and baby boomers do.

But we need work. We need something to occupy our time and minds so we stop focusing on ourselves and others in an unhealthy way. We need to be productive.

Believe me, it pays dividends.

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