25 January 2010

In Praise of Laziness


Hong Kong is a city that preaches haste. Haste is believed by the majority a necessary virtue for progress and prosperity. As a commercially driven society, money is of immense importance and considered the ultimate goal of all people in Hong Kong. It is widely believed that haste could produce wealth. Therefore, it is not uncommon in Hong Kong to see people who have prided in themselves of getting numerous things done in a day. Haste, after all, can be measured proportionally with how much we earn. Being brought up in this city, I have been constantly told of this ideal. I, for a time, believed what I was told and acquired a conscience that kept me being a hard working man. And it became an ideal which was deemed too implausible to be the target of scrutiny. Unfortunately, after witnessing certain instances, I was compelled to revise the ideal that has been upheld by this city and I figured that it has done more harm than good.

Numerous times I engaged in conversations with people of Hong Kong about where and how they travel. They always take pride in themselves how they cover the entire Tokyo in Japan in a week. In order to spend their time wisely, they often decide to wake up at 8a.m. sharp and devise a plan how to stalk from shop to shop in eight hours. Time after time, I am surprised how dense their schedule is, especially the fact that they wake up earlier on holidays than working days.

Modern young men pursue romantic love in the same spirit. They have no patience to engage in a relationship in a considerable amount of time to please a lady with intelligence and humours. They only wish to charm a lady with a dinner and a film while at the same time indulge in inappropriate thoughts whether they will end up in bed together on the same day.

There is so much readiness in Hong Kong which renders people the inability to use their leisure intelligently. Because leisure demands serenity and patience. A piece of literature should be read with a contemplative habit of mind to admire the author's style of writing and the message he wishes to deliver. The beauty of any one place upon travelling can only be appreciated by paying attention to details. A great work of painting can only be finished by a great deal of time and patience. We are unable to derive the appropriate pleasure from our leisure if we attend ourselves to haste. In the absence of serenity, the roses will lose their hue, the fruit its flavour, the star its splendour, and the perfume its aroma. Fifteen minutes of concentration at least are needed to appreciate a sculpture, but even the the most beautiful sculpture rarely detains anyone for even thirty seconds.

Moreover, much of what we consider progress or prosperity is accomplished in leisure. If the French aristocrats had not the time to wander in gardens, there would not have been Rococo art. If Newton had not the time of twenty years to work out the laws of gravitation, we would have remained ignorant of the universe. If Darwin had not spent his time taking a trip to Bagel, we would have thought ourselves the image of God. In a society where the parents encourage their children to spend as less time as possible in university and enter the cruel world of business as soon as possible, nothing great could be achieved.

Therefore, my dear readers, can you still lay your hands on your heart that laziness is a vice and not a virtue? I hope, after reading my plea for laziness, that my dear readers will revolutionise the current trend to induce our good young men in Hong Kong to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

W

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