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In Praise Of ‘Loafering’

Writers Rick Bragg and Tim Kreider on the art of slow living, getting lazy, wasting a little time, to be human.

Man Relaxing in Grass. (Public Domain Photos/Flickr)

Man Relaxing in Grass. (Public Domain Photos/Flickr)

Are we busy?  Yes we are.  Just ask us.  Busy, busy, busy.  All the time.  Rushing here, rushing there.  Almost boasting that we’re busy.  Reveling in it.  Lost in the rush and onslaught.  My guests today say “come off it.”  It’s time to slow down, before life rushes by in a blur.

Get lazy.  Waste a little time.  Open our eyes and ears and hearts to what’s around us.  Rick Bragg reminds us of good old-fashioned “loafering,” for a southern pause.  Tim Kreider says beware the “busy trap.”

This hour, On Point:  Gone fishin’.  We’re celebrating the slowed-down life.  Nice ‘n easy.

-Tom Ashbrook


Rick Bragg, writer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. He is also a Contributing Editor for Southern Living.  His column, “The Gift of Loafering” ran in the June issue of the magazine.

Tim Kreider, a writer for the New York Times, his column, “The ‘Busy’ Trap” ran in the Times two weeks ago.

From Tom’s Reading List

Southern Living “I used to say I planned to fish, but that is a bigger lie than I now have the energy to tell. The fact is, I am the worst fisherman in my family line. My grandfather came home from the Coosa too drunk to stand, coat pockets stuffed with fish. I couldn’t catch a fish standing over a washtub sober with a stick of dynamite.”

The New York Times “Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs  who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired.

Parents On Phones: A blog devoted to photos of parents seeming to ignore their children while speaking on a phone.


“No Hurry” by Zac Brown Band

“The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars

“Eugene” by Greg Brown


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  • Ellen Dibble

    I think interruptions are the dividing line; busy time is where one is constantly adjusting to unanticipated and complex incoming stuff, the Dance of the Party Animal (before he or she numbs out).  Something like that.  Nonbusy time is internally generated programming and scheduling, so to speak, with adjustments all into the realm of the automatic.  

         I’d appreciate your sample photo a lot more if there were not a camera in the photo.  If you’re going to loaf, you don’t record it, time it, appraise it, measure it, as if it were Appointment TV, or in this case appointment tuning-out.

    • Bea

      I second your point about the camera.  I see so many people at social events with their camera phones out recording the happenings instead of actually participating in them.  So sad– do they ever have time to actually view these videos and photos later?

      • TFRX

        Actually, I’m curious if that’s a film camera in the stock photo. (Add “film camera” to the list of retronyms!)

        And if you think about it, getting a roll of film developed is soooo different than loading digital output into a viewing device. The old-fashioned way is…more relaxing–one waits a day (or an hour, if in a hurry), and then has to show them by hand. The new way is one more thing to keep one in front of a digital screen–not that that’s bad, but…

        • nj_v2

          “Retronyms” Nice! Hadn’t heard that before. Is that your coinage? Can i use it?

          True, there’s something gained and something lost with technological change.

          It’s curious how much slower people are to change than is the technology. We still speaking of “dialing” phone numbers, for example.

          This could be a topic for a whole program.

          I tend to doubt the camera in the photo is film. Shooting with film has become a kind of specialized thing. The masses have mostly switched to digital.

    • nj_v2

      Hmmm…not sure about that.

      I dont’ know if there are strict definitions in place, but i can imagine that loafering may allow for creative/immersive experiences in addition to activity that comes closer to doing “nothing.”

      As a photographer, the experience of paying close attention to things being viewed, on occasions where one is not “working” on an assigned or paid gig can be a kind of meditation and communing with one’s environment; a mix of relaxation, engagement, discovery, and satisfaction.

      I wouldn’t be so harsh on cameras.

  • AC

    after being stuck in hospitals for months at a time with more visits expected in the future, i can not even comprehend how you ‘loaf’. i want to live, live, live, think, learn and do everything i can while i can….

    • nj_v2

      We all, i hope, find our point of balance.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      Dont’cha ever wanna chill?

      • AC

        maybe i dislike it because i’ve been forced to do it? i have learned patience so it’s got it’s good side , i guess :/

    • Ellen Dibble

      Don’t you get more selective, though, about live, live, live?  This, not that?

  • J__o__h__n

    If I could be bothered to do so, I’d be an advocate for loafing.  No need to waste effort in inventing foolish new words like loafering. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       You beat me to the comment, you ambitious person!

      • J__o__h__n

        Sorry, I’d work on improving my loafing but that would be counterproductive.

      • TFRX

        By that score (John was posting while you were loafing) you win, don’t you?

        • J__o__h__n

          I can multi-loaf. 

          • TFRX

            I dunno, sounds like a lot of effort. But OK.

    • John

      It’s not a new, invented term; it’s an old term from parts of the rural South. I heard it in my childhood in NC.

    • nj_v2

      One of the guests did make what i thought was a valid distinction in the opening comments.

  • J__o__h__n

    “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it.” -Bill Gates

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      I’d like it, but I LOVE it!

  • Kestral

    Wouldn’t that be LOAFING?  I think loafers are shoes….

    • Adks12020

      haha…that’s what I was thinking.  My friends and I have always called it loafing.

  • Patrik

    Loafering is good for you.  As humans we are just busying ourselves with something to do in the time that we have before we die, in the greater scope of life, I think just wandering and wondering can be fit in the schedule.  I fancy the Tom Sawyer image of laying on a raft that lazily floats down a river as you are surrounded by the ambient sounds of nature.

  • Adks12020

    “loafing” is an essential part of staying sane.  Every once in a while it’s just necessary to take the dog, wander out into the woods or to the edge of the river, and just sit around and do nothing.  No cell phone, no music, no nothing. 

    • Patrik

      Absolutely agree.

  • nj_v2

    “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

    —Satchel Page

  • Vasco DeGrabya

    Loafers are an endangered species in our time.

    If you are a white-bread American I promise you there is someone in the 3rd world who is willing to work 10 times harder than you for one tenth of what you have.

    The solution?  Refuse to play this game.  Stare at the clouds or stars, listen to Jazz, and take a nap now and then.  Treasure the things that cannot easily be taken away.  Consrvatives and various other bean-counters CAN be defeated if you decide not to play their game, by their rules. 

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    I’m gonna swallow a 5-Hour Energy shot (my little red bottle o’ love) and listen to this show!!! Rock on!

    • http://feedmedaily.blogspot.com/ Julia

      You can now buy decaf 5hr shots! Pardon my French, but, wtf? Loafers like their caffeine too. :)

  • http://feedmedaily.blogspot.com/ Julia

    There is so much I could say about this topic. But I’ll give you the gist: a) writing has saved my life b) accepting the slowness and the non-striving of the writing process is a struggle that leads me to just stare out windows and procrastinate, thinking ‘who do I think I am attempting to write a piece of literature?’ c) there is no better anti-anxiety solution (for me) than connecting back to the tactile, to the human, to the beautiful/truthful even for just one blink of the eye. I have a post-it on my mirror/dashboard/laptop. “What is important?”, it asks. Shifting the mind away from doubt, rumination, and anticipation. feedmedaily.blogspot.com

  • John in Vermont

    People spend too much time doing and not enough time considering.  Bertrand Russell wrote about this over 40 years ago in his essay “In Praise of Idleness” you can read it here: http://libcom.org/files/Bertrand%20Russell%20-%20In%20Praise%20of%20Idleness.pdf

  • jim

    Saying.. “i am lazy”… sounds cool…

    but it is not, especially in this ultra-competitive society.

    • Vasco DeGrabya

      The rat that reaches the highest point on the sinking ship still drowns, my friend!

      • crabpatty

         Funny, but true!

      • Vandermeer

         Dear Vasco, Such a wonderful metaphor!!!
        I had to laugh it is so true.

  • atakemoto

    Living to work rather than working to live is the ultimate waste of time.  

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I don’t mind working hard at something that I want to do.  The problem is getting others to see what I want to do as worth paying for.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    In Rick Bragg’s spare time?  Does he not live up to his principle?

  • Jenny

    I live in Western, NC.  While taking a leisurely bike ride I came across a little mountain community named “Loafers Glory.”  Brought a smile to my face.  How fantastic is that?   

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       The country of my birth and childhood–beautiful land.

  • Soli

    Doing my best to do a lot more of this during the summer, and the rest of my life.

  • Pat in Tennessee

    Okay, is anyone going to mention all the people (not ME!!) who are busily listening to this story, posting comments, tweeting and emailing it to others, etc?

  • AC

    wait a minute – i think he’s confused ‘having an adventure’ with ‘loafing’

    • AC

      he’s also confusing passion & curiosity with ‘busy’ & ‘work’

  • TFRX

    At some point doesn’t this go back to the vacation show?

    How many people are “safe” not sounding as busy as the next person at work?

  • Dame

    Catherine Deneuve, when asked what she thought was the key to glamour, answered “Never hurry.”

    Her sentiment echoes William Henry Channing — “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly … to listen to stars and buds, to babes and sages, with open heart; await occasions, hurry never … listen is my symphony.”

    Oh my, in this time of untold greed, what wisdom in these words!

  • http://twitter.com/Ampersand_Pubs Peter Turner

    Loafering sounds like Thoreau’s particular definition of walking: ”
    I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived from “idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word form sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering.”

  • Chris B

    As some wise soul said, no one dies wishing they’d spent more time at the office.

  • Janie

    Kreider’s view of how a slower pace of life might lead to more connected relationships, a more carefully examined life, a more fulfilled life, is very appealing. Bragg’s version sounds different to me – more like depression, actually.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    My cat wants me to adopt this attitude.  He sees my primary job as providing him a warm surface upon which to take a nap.

    • TFRX

      Your primary job isn’t “food dispenser”?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         As long as I keep the food bowl full, he’s happy.

  • Tncanoeguy

    Here Here – our consumer culture leads to all this commotion.  Having the latests smart phone, big TV, fancy car – we’re rats on a wheel, and for what – so the CEOs can make their millions? 

  • Erin in Iowa

    There is nothing worse than being “busy”.  My favorite thing to do is take a few days off work with NO expectations.  People always ask “what are you going to do on your vacation?” and my favorite answer is “I don’t know”.  What a feeling!

  • John C

    I skipped 87 days of school in Weymouth in my freshman year in 1984.  I miss those days, ducking out on the internecine hallway skirmishes and whispering campaigns in the classroom, physical confrontations on the schoolbus.  Boy, I caught hell for that from my family, I wound up having to get busy and take some night classes and summer classes to make up for that year.

    But I will always remember the quiet year of reflection and nature appreciation I had as a 14 year old playing hooky spent in Bare Cove Park in Hingham, exploring the old abandoned WW2 buildings.

  • Jennie

    MEN may have the option to hop the train like cute old grandpa, but WOMEN are tied to hearth and home by virtue of providing stability for their children (and cute old grandpa when hopping is no longer an option!).

    • kp

      Sorry but I think your argument is about 30 years out of date. I do just as much around the house as my wife and she would have a hard time getting the kids if we were to divorce. I also keep everything “working” so take your stereotype thinking somewhere else.

      • Ginger

        Not so fast. Congratulations to you and your wife.  But generally speaking, Jennie is on point.  And you know that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    As a recent(ish) grad still laboring under a mountain of college debt I rarely feel like I have time to loaf about. I have to work as much and as often as I can or the sword of damocles over me will drop and I’ll be back in my parents basement. I do take time when I can maybe, an hour hear or there, but really when it boils down to it I have too much debt hanging over me to loaf as much as I want or need to.

  • Loving Life

    I haven’t been busy ever in my adult life and enjoy a great deal of leisure time. I mostly spend that time reading, which is my joy (when not reading I often take walks around town or sit on my porch smoking a cigar). As a result, I don’t have much money (my annual income is near the poverty level, but I have no family so it works for me). Most of the people I know who tell me how busy they are, really aren’t. As best I can tell, they are mostly occupied (1) telling people how busy they are, and (2) trying to appear busy. I feel sorry for them, poor things.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In the more relentless stretches of my life, my idea of rest was simply going to jail.  I wanted a place to look at the ceiling and stay there till all exhaustion had passed.  I didn’t figure on being bothered there, but that was my idea of heaven.  

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Caller, you’re not helping the cause here. . .

    • nj_v2

      No one reading this ^ (except you) knows to whom you are referring.

  • Peggy Medema

    When you grow up in the country, as I did, you learn how to entertain yourself in order to pass the time. We only had one TV station, so when there wasn’t anything on worth watching, you found something else to do; puzzles, books, playing outside. Today, so many people don’t know how to make their own fun. Children especially have had everything laid out for them as an “event” and don’t know how to just enjoy quiet time.

  • Cbarmonde

    In my experience an awful lot of these “Busy” people are simply wildly inefficient at ‘”working”.  Pacing at the office while pretending to problem solve does not count as “busy”.  Just get the job done already and you have time to play.  That is if you have any interests outside of surfing the web and sitcoms.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       That’s right.  The problem is that those “busy” people get upset that others are more efficient at working than they are.  They can’t be satisfied with rushing about themselves.  We have to be doing it with them.

  • John in Vermont

    Pete Seeger wrote “The Goofing Off Suite” to be played under the shade of a tree ‘practicing’ while others were busy doing chores etc.

    • TFRX

      Irving Berlin’s “Lazy”, Johnny Mercer’s “Lazy Bones”.

      I know, I’m making you look them up yourself.

  • Marianne

    Pets help us slow down. My dogs show me every day that the joy of life is to play, run, chase, nap and share affection. They don’t care about material things (except a good chew toy); they love the experience of life, and time shared with others. Animals are good teachers.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Of course, if we humans didn’t work to support them, the pets would have to be much busier.

  • Glenn

    We just don’t know how to change.  Where do you start?  We’re in debt, in danger of losing the house, watching ‘troubling’ news on TV every day.  We’re worried and the natural thing to do is to work harder to try to stay afloat and pretend each of us is immune to the problems everyone is talking about.

    • Glenn

      Many industries are bloated with jobs we don’t really need. The military industrial complex builds military hardware that the pentagon doesn’t need. The medical industrial complex provides treatments that aren’t needed.  The education industrial complex is loaded with staffers and administrators, ordering text books, none of which is really, really needed.
      The people working in these industries MUST feel the futility of this, and the coming collapse of these and other major sectors of the ‘economy’ and they’re afraid because they have no vision of what they would do instead.
      So they keep their shoulder to the wheel and hope nothing changes.  But they know that eventually it will.

  • Masha

    I’m guilty of The Busy Boast. But when you’re a contractor and underlying the business is uncertainty of the next paycheck, I feel compelled to grab whatever work is available to hedge against what may or may not come. This especially applies when I have a kid and I want BETTER for him!

    • crabpatty

       I have to tell you that I was a stay at home Mom. My children knew I was available for them. Making things better for them is not always the material  things- and “Stuff”…sometimes being there is the best thing you can do for them. Dinner and time with you is the best thing you can do.

  • AnaWillow

    My husband has said “boring is underrated” – and I have become more adn more a believer…  i dropped my multitasking lifestyle where every day was a new activity with a different group for days without the car or a motor/engine running. we have dropped non essentials like cable & eating out, focusing on dropping the mortgage so that we can actually enjoy this lovely home we have together… and have more quiet times for reading, writing, creating, taking an untraveled road, etc- life is for living NOW, not when we retire in 20+years

    • TFRX

      A stand-up differentiated “quality time” with his kids from “quantity time”: Not planning, regimenting or structuring a day with one’s kids to the nth degree.

      (It sounds like some days I remember fondly when I was a tot.)

  • John in Vermont

    The singer John Hartford took pity on all the overly busy people that he saw while drifting down the river. It’s called “In Tall Buildings” – you can see it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSWLm2wRHSA

  • ToyYoda

    I find being busy as a  very empowering excuse.  I love ‘loafering’ alone, but most people are lonely and need to loafer with others.  So, often times when I loafer alone and someone wants to loafer with me, I tell them that I am “busy with work.  Sorry maybe next time.”

  • kp

    Many people are busy but they are not efficient in their work.

  • atakemoto

    My mother had the perfect answer to “where are we going?” when on Sunday afternoon drives.  “There and back to see how far it is.”

  • kp

    I’m off for the summer and I’m playing with my kids enjoying myself. Remove yourself from your stuff and you’ll have more time for things that really matter. Corporate consumerism has convinced most people, not me.

  • Mischa Shattuck

    I am a first time mom, blessed with an 11 week old baby girl.  I’m at home on maternity leave am surprised at how wonderful it is to just sit and be with her.  I have friends asking “have you started baby sign videos”, “have you enrolled in infant music class”, “did you know the children’s museum has an infant program”…  To all this I answer “no”.  I am overjoyed to hold her and BE with her.  If we make it out for a walk so be it, but if I just look at her and watch her discover her hands, or get her to smile- it’s a great, fulfilled day.

    • crabpatty

       When my children were little, I would look at them as if they were the most gorgeous creations in this world. Doing all the busy things will not improve the relationship you have with your baby. Reading to them and simply sitting and being there for them is so important. When I took my kids to the grocery store, instead of a sweet treat, candy or the like- I chose a Golden Book instead. My son is probably one of the smartest most well read people ever. His vast knowledge of various and different things amazes me. Enjoy your baby. There is such a thing as over stimulation. You have the right idea. Just being happy to BE. Stand your ground. She is your child, do things the way your instinct says to. Enjoy her- they grow so fast……

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What about getting a job doing what you would be doing in your free time?  Does that mean that such a person gets paid for loafing?

  • Ellen Dibble

    To me, vacation time is a creation of the modern corporate culture.  How many holidays do we have?  One a month?  More?  As if your employer could tell you, now, go to the parade or the fair, and totally unwind and re-create yourself.  On command, on demand.   It’s performance loafering.  I don’t think much of it.  I can get a lot more wound up by throwing myself amidst a thousand people and trying to figure out what to make of it.

  • Ed

    A trifle sappy:

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.  The professor next picked up a box of sand an d poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous ‘yes.’  The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.  ‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.  The sand is everything else—the small stuff. ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  ‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is ; just sand.’ One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’  The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.’

  • Carolchap

    Another song that should be on your playlist!

    The Way I Should by Iris Dement

  • joseph makela

    another primo show Tom – Rick’s drawl puts me in a nice safe slow place… it is all subjective, some folk just can’t slow down.
    I’ve been advocating a slow life for the longest time – i’m only 45 yrs old. i work hard but really live slow. dope helps…

  • Al in NH

    Always preached “Overhead is death.” I’m 68. early retired in 1999 to work the summer at a Marine Lab on an island. A dream since I set foot on it 1975.  Worked there 5 years. Raised 3 son’s, live in a house I’ve been building since 84. Just came in from working on the boat I’m building. Heading out tomorrow to volunteer at the lab the next few days. Took up wood turning and volunteer with the Guild of NH Woodworkers. Volunteer up in Maine. Gee I’m busy…doing exactly what I want to do. Plenty of time everyday for sunrises and sunsets.

  • Aaron

    For me loafering wouldn’t so much be not doing anything as being able to focus on that which is both challenging and satisfying, giving up a cluttered mind, and ending multitasking. I want to become an apiarist and start a small homestead, simplify by cutting out excess, and lead a quiet, productive life.

  • TFRX

    These days people can’t say “I’m not busy”. It’s almost a firable offense.

  • djnola

    A number of poets and writers have advocated relaxation–someone just mentioned Twain, but Keats, too, in “Ode to Indolence” celebrates inactivity as the richest living experience. And what about Buddha?  And the Bible’s parable of the lillies of the field (they neither toil nor spin).

    • Ellen Dibble

      I may be misremembering, or mixing up bits of the Gospels.  Wasn’t the story relative to, stop what you’re doing and pay attention to the Teacher?  Or was that Mary and Martha, where one of them was busy doing the cooking, and he told her to drop it and join the meeting.  Sort of like, skip the last supper; we’ll have Fast Food tonight.  (Typical male attitude?  I don’t know.)

  • AC

    that was nice! they got it!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    “Tweeting isn’t something that a grown man should do.”  Excellent.  Sadly, Twitter is the new marketing arena.

  • crabpatty

    I have been out of work for nearly 3 years. I have to credit my husband for his tolerance in this matter, but I also have to say this sabbatical in life or the view that you have no life unless you are making money…this has given me the opportunity to be able to take some older friends to Doctor’s appointments, be a friend to someone in need of one- be there when a friend was dying, bake for someone, my garden looks sensational, and the flowers are so satisfying. My children are doubtful that I am productive, but I am so thankful that I have time to sew, garden, quilt at church, go to lunch, and be there when someone needs me. Yes, I do loaf. Yes there are tons of things I could do. But I am so glad I have time, just to “be”. People don’t realize when they get to their senior years and all they have is a fat bank account, no family , friends or interests, that has got to be the saddest thing I could imagine.

    • Bigleyjoshua

       “Long distance runner, what you standing there for, get up get off get out of the door…there’s a dragon with matches thats loose on the town, take a whole pail of water just to cool him down–Fire! Fire on the mountain…

      almost ablaze, still you don’t feel the heat…takes all you got just to stay on the beat; you say it’s a living, we’ve all gotta eat, but you’re here alone, there’s no one to compete.

      If mercy is a business, i wish it for you, more than just ashes when your dreams come true–Fire! Fire on the mountain…

      long distance runner, what’chew holding out for, caught in slow motion in a dash to the door, the flames from your stage has now spread to the floor; you gave all you had, why you want to give more, the more that you give, the more that it will take, to the thin line beyond, which you really can’t fake– singing, Fire! Fire on the mountain.”

        ~The Grateful Dead

      • crabpatty

         Okay, I have read this a few times but I am not quite understanding. Although, I appreciate all the typing you did to send these thoughts to me, could you please break it down for me? Thanks.

  • Jaki Reis

    There is a great story from India… a man takes a break from his work and sits under a tree to watch his cows.  A big car drives up, a very rich man gets out and approaches the man under the tree.  He says, “Hey, I know you from school, Rra! Look at you sitting under that tree!  I have worked very hard and became very successful, I have three hotels and four stores.  What do you have?”  

    The man says, “I have those cows over there.”  “That is not very much”, says the Rich man, but if you worked hard, as I did, you could have as much money as I have.” The man under the tree says, “Rra, what do you plan to do with all your money?”  “Well, says the rich man, “I have bought my house, and this wonderful car. When I get older, I will be able to sit and relax in my yard.”  
    The man under the tree says,  “Ah, I see.  Well, Rra, I have the same plan, but I have skipped all of the hard work for success and am sitting and enjoying my cows right now.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    Will children know how to manage time if we keep them busy?  Will they know how to manage their own awareness if we never let them be bored for long, long stretches?

  • 2 loaves

    Young people can’t unplug…it’s because they spent their childhood indoors.  Remember when you were sent outside to play and don’t come back till dinner.  In that outside you learned by paying attention to your environment, thinking your thoughts, playing with friends and finding your inside calm and ease.   

  • tobybaz@yahoo.com

    There is an sad infatuation with being busy in our culture. It’s a brainwash. Really, if you can break from the ony way to live is trading your time for money, loafing is a natural byproduct. You have time to really live. I used to be a therapist working for peanuts to make the world a better place. It stunk and i was poor. I got into sales then met a cute italian girl on the T, sold everything on craigslist and moved to south italy for 3 years. In short, loafing is not a choice, it’s a necessity there. Now back in the states, I choose to sell software from home and my wife is a university professor teaching on-line courses. We do this from home in Boston and 2-3 months per year from southern italy thanks to the internet and voice over ip. We spend days with our baby and work with extreme efficiency. It’s a completely different mentality. From trading time for money…that lesson is the key. Until learning to change this mentality, one’s life will always be frantic, regardless of the income.



    • Dww1928

      Are you a Klem (from Lithuania)?

  • Taraloughran

    This is so cool to hear about! It makes me feel better about myself. In the last few years I haven’t worked much and I have barely any money. I keep feeling guilty about it. I miss the security of knowing I have enough to pay my bills, but every time I start searching for a full time job, I just realize I don’t want to do it! It hate having no money, yet I seem to be choosing time over money these days. Now if I had kids, I don’t think I could do that. It wouldn’t be fair to choose that kind of life for someone else, but for myself, I think it’s the right choice.

    • crabpatty

      I think that if what you do makes you happy(provided you are not breaking the law, or being self destructive, etc-) as long as you are content, that is a good place to be.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3LZ6U7OIYXKLXQSWDCCPSJ6MAI michael

    2010 I was terminated from what was to be my last full time job. I was a bit frantic as I had plans there were quickly altered. After a little calm down (a few margaritas), I began the job search with a few nibbles. I finally settled into a part time positon with a national chain as a replenishment associate ( stock man, boy, clerk). I gained more free time which I squander scandulously as I want and am happy to under employed and loafering  I am old enough to receive social security)

  • Taraloughran

    I’ve struggled with depression for years. It’s kept me from being able to work a full time job. It’s been really hard, but I’ve realized that it has a good side and that is that it’s forced me to slow down in my life.

  • Terri Luginbyhl

    Acckkk!  Loafer is the noun; to loaf, the infinitive.  I can loaf around and be a loafer, but it is harder to loafer around :) 

     Apparently so much free time leads to coining new words? 

    Enjoyed the show, as always. :)

    • Michele

      I agree – I’ve always heard the phrase: loafing around.  Loafers are a type of shoe or individuals who loaf or who are perhaps loafing, not loafering.

      On another note – there is something about heat, sunny days, and green grass that invite slowing down and loafing around.

    • Emily Wigley

      Loafering and loafing are different. Go back and listen to the description of loafering; it means taking off in an unplanned,  no destination way. Completely different (except in terms of work) from loafing. Not related to shoes, though you’ll wear some out when loafering for a while.

  • Dww1928

    When discussing the 55 mph speed limit, my friend Pete Seeger says, I don’t understand why, if life is so short, folks want to go so fast.

  • Bigleyjoshua

     “Long distance runner, what you standing there for, get up get off get
    out of the door…there’s a dragon with matches thats loose on the town,
    take a whole pail of water just to cool him down–Fire! Fire on the mountain…

    almost ablaze, still you don’t feel the heat…takes all you got just to
    stay on the beat; you say it’s a living, we’ve all gotta eat, but
    you’re here alone, there’s no one to compete.

    If mercy is a business, i wish it for you, more than just ashes when your dreams come true–Fire! Fire on the mountain…

    long distance runner, what’chew holding out for, caught in slow motion
    in a dash to the door, the flames from your stage has now spread to the
    floor; you gave all you had, why you want to give more, the more that
    you give, the more that it will take, to the thin line beyond, which you
    really can’t fake– singing, Fire! Fire on the mountain.”

      ~The Grateful Dead

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574714325 Bonner A Davis

    Oh wow!  Did my master thesis on this topic and was thrilled to hear it discussed and debated.  It lead me to several books on the topic (The Overworked American, When I Relax I Feel Guilty, etc.), and organizations (http://www.timeday.org/).  

    Americans are bi-polar on this issue.  We complain about it, but studies have shown when given the choice between a bigger paycheck and more leisure time, we consistently choose the paycheck.  It’s only when we’re forced to slow down (lay-off, illness, etc), that we realize the madness that we’ve been living.  Why?  I think it’s because we value people, not for who they are outside of work, but for what they produce or contribute to society.  Leisure/rest/loafering are viewed as evil; “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” 

  • Phil

    Great show. If you do a sequel, be sure to mention Walt Whitman… http://osopher.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/mystic-dreamer-tramp-loaferer/

  • Stewey444

    Even God rested after the work for the week was over.  There is a real value to the idea of “Sabbath.”

  • anon

    gen x folks had this down…until some of us had kids. kids=busy. even if you’re chilling out. just does.

  • gslouch

    Glad to hear someone broaching this subject.  Ithink one guest hit it on the head.  It depends on your personality or temperment.  For me, I think more clearly when I’m less busy.  I speak more thoughfully when I’m less busy.  I’m happier when I’m able to meander through the day at my pace.  Unfortunately ,it’s difficult to find this pace in a job market that is all about productivity to the max usually, trumping quality of life.  I do make the effort to appreciate nature , my surroundings and the people in my life.  These thing s are all more important to me than any job.   In my mind I savor the approach of retirement and, cross my fingers,for a healthy life after work. 

  • http://twitter.com/mattgriffin Matt Griffin

    soundcloud seems down

  • Slipstream

    My 2 cents: Balance.  You have to have balance.  Neither work nor leisure is fulfilling without the other.  Unless you’re a true workaholic, work without R&R becomes a painful grind.  If all you have is leisure time, then dullness and depression set in.  Methinks your guests may be a tad hypocritical.  They are both successful writers/teachers/media pros – they didn’t get there by spending their days smoking ganja and perfecting their croquet strokes.  

  • Slipstream

    I love Bragg’s distinction between loafering and piddling!  That is a new one on me.  I thought piddling was an adjective used to describe something small, meaningless, and worthless.  I hope Mr. Bragg scares a few fish this summer.

  • Slipstream

    I have to say I think there are better ways to use leisure time than aimlessly driving around.  How about walking, running, cycling, paddling, or swimming?

  • Emitr

    Piddling is more my style.  I lie around at home on the weekends after working twelve-hour days during the week.  There’s nothing better than a weekend alone, taking naps at will, after working hard all week.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherLynn117 Heather Dawn Lynn

    I can’t help but feel these comments are coming from people who are at least about 10 years (at least five years out of college) into an established career. If you’re young, you don’t have the option to take vacation or explore; you have to prove yourself in your field. You don’t have the money to go off and do what you need; if you’re poor, you also have to work 2-3 jobs to make rent. Where is the time for leisure there?

  • strange

    Am I the only one who thinks that the best “loaferers” are the people on welfare who can work but choose not to?

    I don’t mind people slowing down and taking  a breath, as long as the rest of the hardworking people do not pay for their lives/health insurance/food.

    So, if you can support yourself while you are loafering, more power to you!

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