eThoughts : October 1, 2008 The Lazy Mind

Some days, some weeks, some months, some years, likely some lifetimes, some of us don’t feel like doing anything more energetic than powering our basic respiration. Struggling against the odds may be the stuff of movies, but as a way of life, it can just suck.

It’s easy to fall into lazy mind—in fact when I’m really discouraged, it seems a lot more like a default position rather than a fall. The lazy mind is seemingly everywhere, I see it happen in myself, I see it in students, on the highway, in our personal interactions, in our institutions.

How did we get into this economic mess that even with a government (read taxpayer) bailout we will be tightroping it for some time? And if that goes wrong, our fall back plan is what?

How is it that our divorce rate is about 50%? And even those that stay married may not be all that happy. Certainly getting married again doesn’t seem to improve the odds of success.

How is it that we cannot seem to put together an educational plan that is actually intelligent? Instead we’re now on some outcome-driven formula that might work for math or introduction to languages or carpentry or computer literacy—assuming we knew how to engage students and they were really interested in being engaged—but is a sham in disciplines like psychology, sociology, or philosophy. We’re going to teach people in those disciplines what to think and how to respond?

How is it that we can participate in so many ways and yet have so few substantive changes? We’re still ripping each other off—and still allowing it.

All right, I’m pissed off. And I’m not feeling much like a part of anything because someone with some power somewhere is more interested in their agenda than a useful compass heading. I’m sick of philosophical revolving doors—let’s go north, no, let’s go south, no, let’s go east. Whatevvverrr.

And it’s my fault. And yours and ours. It’s true that we can’t do everything our self, we need others. But delegating responsibility is not the same thing as giving it up. It’s discouraging to see students who have so little interest in what they’re doing that they can’t even do the simplest of things. They are not required to have an interest, but then again why are they taking up a seat? It’s discouraging to see teachers who have so little interest in students that they don’t actually know they have students, just paychecks. They don’t have to be interested, but then again, why are they taking up a podium? It’s discouraging to see administrators who have so little interest in what is happening in the trenches that they don’t even know there actually are trenches. They don’t have to be interested, but then again why are they taking up a position? It’s discouraging to see religious leaders who have so little interest in how people elevate, but a world of interest in how they fail. What is that emphasis again? They don’t have to help, but then again why are they taking up a collection? Oh, yeah, I remember… It’s discouraging to see so many politicians who are so adept at closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, but wouldn’t even know there was a horse or a barn unless someone pointed them out. They don’t have to be interested, but then again, why do they say they are? Oh, yeah, I remember…

Our world doesn’t just exist in some escapist mind, those walls we all keep running into are not just in our heads. We’ve got to come out of the inside of our heads to see what is up—hell, even Punxsutawney Phil has enough sense to rise up out of his burrow on occasion.

It’s an interesting paradox that the only true way to know what we’re actually up to on the inside, is to go outside and see it—we can’t see the inside from the inside. It’s another interesting paradox that often the best solutions arise in the emptiness, not in the busy-ness.

The lazy mind just won’t move off of its position—wandering around inside of itself staying busy building talismans to explain and ward off the outside, and substantive change.

We need help and we need it from each other. This going it alone crap is a hard run. And the institutions we’ve built to help everyone basically are feeding troughs for a few.

So what do we need to do? How about realizing that the lazy mind is a good way to create a lot of work? A lot of really unnecessary work.

Yet another paradox: If you pay attention, you get attention. In other words, one of the best ways to relax is to be alert. And being alert is a lot more fun when a lot more are doing it.

I want to belong to a community, to a nation, to a world that is paying attention. We don’t have to be on 24/7 as individuals if we’ve got others looking out for our back, instead of looking out to see if our back is turned. And the really good part is that it can start right now, it doesn’t require any marching or voting or collection plates, it just requires us to look out so that we can see in. I certainly know how much better I feel when someone actually notices that I exist, that I feel, that I have doubts, that I want—need—to belong. And I’m not alone. I’m not just another human knick-knack, of utilitarian value for some one else’s plucking as they need it. None of us are. We know this, we all know this. So let’s stop being lazy about it and do what we already know to do. Then we might find out just how fun doing nothing really is when we give it our individual and collective attention.

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