Laziness aka “sloth” has a bad rap. Slandered since biblical times, sloth (the original term for a Lazy Ass) has been branded as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. What did a sloth or a pillow of sloths (pillow is the collective noun for sloths in case you didn’t know) ever do to be mocked and vilified by everyone and everything including the Holy Bible?
Are sloths being treated as scapegoats or is that a mixed metaphor?
Point is: I’m feeling it for sloths.
How would you like it if you spent most of your day hanging upside in trees quietly munching on leaves and when you got home and surfed the sloth-net all these horrible stories and blogs about indolent, sinful, do-nothing sloths popped up in your timeline? I’d be depressed and hang upside down in gravity boots for a while.
Maligned by Priests
Sloth animosity finds its root in biblical teachings stating the punishment for being a sloth is to be “thrown into a snake-pit.” Harsh! For a creature who likes to mind his/her own business lying in a hammock staring at the stars upside down? Accused of being non-productive when a sloth, like a writer, is in fact thinking hard about the latest chapter in their novel, or what to stream after dinner. Just because they appear not to be “doing anything” doesn’t mean they’re not working.
The Sloth Is My Power Animal
When I lie on a rusty chaise beneath the big fig tree in my garden I’m working my ass off: mentally editing, refining paragraphs and prose, thinking of new ideas for my plays or writing projects, toying with ways to begin or end a chapter, exploring characters, yadayadaya. Anyone walking by who sees me lying there assumes I’m a lazy soddess (a female sod) sleeping off a night of debauchery.
And if I’m not mentally outlining the scene structure of Act Two I’m deliberately letting my mind drift out to sea, go sky blank, resting, staring at leaves, drinking in dappled light, breathing contentedly, munching on toast.
I first heard about wicked sloths as a child at church. Priests who’d never even met a sloth in person preached passionately against their kind. Even as a kid I noticed priests liked devil-hunting in all the wrong places (outspoken women, laid-back sloths, gay people) which made me want to be one or like them even more.
I was raised believing sloth/laziness was a mortal sin. Thankfully I grew up, became a writer and realized sloth is the opposite of a sin, it’s a virtue! I get some of my best ideas embracing my inner sloth, which, once created and doggedly pursued, have awarded me success.
Dance Like a Sloth
I’d happily hang with any of the sloths I’ve seen on Google images: They’re blissful, laid-back, with crescent-moon grins of contentment. They’re cool with their choices, oblivious to outside negativity and judgment like any self-respecting person/sloth.
Sloths aren’t lazy, they’re deliberately slow. They recognized millions of years ago that the secret weapon to success is laziness. Their strategic laziness is a survival technique, which has allowed them, as the slowest mammals on Earth, to survive because of their laziness for 64 million years!
Considering the modern form of humans has been on earth for about 200,000 years and our human ancestors have been around for only 6M years, maybe it’s time we respected and learned a thing or two about survival and success from the sloth.
A sleepy-eyed sloth knows the best way to survive and live a good life is to be peaceful ... hanging upside down, viewing the world with a unique perspective.
Writers & Sloths
As for writers? I consider laziness the thinking person’s pause. Extended moments of stillness in which one lets go of the preconceived to consider new, even radical alternatives.
I’m changing my Instagram bio to writer-sloth and hope you’ll join me. ’Til then I’ll be hanging upside down in my imagination, seeing/sensing from a different perspective, chewing on chocolate-covered espresso beans until a deadline looms when I’ll kiss my sloth momentarily good-bye and channel my inner cheetah.
_ Didi Balle
Have you embraced your inner sloth? Has laziness contributed to your success? Please share when you wake up from your power nap.
Adapted from: “The Lazy As Host Handbook: A Sensible Guide to Entertaining in Style” by Didi Balle
© 2020 Didi Balle
Upcoming Blog Posts: Excerpts from the Lazy Ass Host Handbook by Didi Balle.