ON BEING IDLE
I went out this morning with my pitch fork to remove the leaves from the clogged street drain at the corner of my block. No one else bothers. Most of the people around me are renters, so I accept the responsibility and prefer to do the job now rather than wait until after a heavy rain when I’d be obliged to work in a pool of water several inches deep. Of course, I’ll have to clean the drain several times before the last leaf falls but I prefer to be busy. My garden is on hiatus, my third book is languishing with my publisher and my fourth book is being reviewed by my editor. Right now, I feel like Robinson Crusoe, marooned
I don’t much care to be idle. Today, I even considered making bread or a stew. When I think about cooking, it means I am bored, so bored I long for the tingle of an itch to distract me.
I know it’s good for a farmer’s field to lie fallow for a season, but I take no pleasure in doing nothing. If I were vacationing on a tropical beach, I’d probably count the waves.
I could read, of course. Literature provides many studies on the art of waiting: “The Prisoner of Chillon” by Lord George Byron; “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett, even Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage.” Or perhaps I could choose humor to distract me: Garrison Keeler and Dave Barry come to mind. Or a mystery? Surely there is one Martha Grimes book I haven’t read.
My mother who is 94 often quotes the proverb, “This too shall pass.” She’s right, of course. Time is nothing if not fleeting. News may come tomorrow that will bring a new task.
In the meantime, I thought I saw a drain in the next block that needs clearing.