I GOT UP LATE yesterday morning. I was still lounging around in my pajamas, reading the saved up papers, trying to catch up on the news I missed while on my beach vacation. I was feeling kind of hurried -- since my wife and I are leaving for a two-week-long mountain hiatus on Sunday -- when I read an article that stopped me in my tracks.
This preposterous article was a news report that came out last week saying that North Carolina is the fourth laziest state in the United States. I was disappointed, dismayed and ready to dismember whoever authored this ridiculous report. How could anyone suggest that our beloved North Carolina is the fourth laziest state? We are far better than that.
I can tell you this, we're not behind Louisiana, Mississippi or Arkansas in anything -- and certainly not laziness. I refuse to accept that we Tar Heels are any lower than first.
These so-called scientists say we're fat (ranked 10th) and don't exercise enough. Leisure time spent on “physically inactive” activities, including surfing the Web, they don’t consider "exercise." Obviously, these researchers have never seen me "surfing the web." I get more exercised "surfing the web" than Lance Armstrong gets climbing the Pyrenees. When I started researching this article on-line, my heart rate doubled and my blood pressure about went through the roof. Man, I was exercised.
These guys probably never visited our fair state. I say, along with Lamar Caulder, of Raleigh, "Let them come to see if we're lazy." I say, "Come with me to any Golden Corral in North Carolina, and watch the people hiking back and forth to the food bar dozens of times, and then tell me we don't get any exercise."
Sadly, based on the letters to the editor following this article, some North Carolinians think that being lazy is a bad thing. Obviously, these people aren't thinking very much. (Do note that thinking too much is one of the factors that got North Carolina a fourth-place, rather than a first-place, finish in the lazy race.)
Laziness, my friends, is not a problem. Laziness is the solution -- to about every problem.
Laziness is the engine of progress
Most Americans don't realize that the problem with America today is not too many lazy people; it is that there aren't enough lazy people. The real progress of mankind has not been made by the hard work of diligent laborers, as the ignorami suppose. Real progress comes from work-shirking lazy people. At my best, I have been one of those deliverers of progress. At times I have been so lazy that I spent all day trying to save five minutes worth of work.
"There has got to be an easier way" is not just the catchphrase of the sluggard; it is the mantra of progress. Every labor-saving device was invented by a lazy person. The hard-working worker gets out a shovel and digs a hole. The lazy man gets out of the hole and invents the backhoe. Which would you say, despiser of the lazy man, does more good?
Robert Heinlein, who wrote books for us to read in our leisure time, said it well: "Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something."
I read the biography of Thomas Edison who patented more than a thousand inventions while sleeping something like two hours a night. My thought, how many thousands would he have had if he had ever gotten a good night’s rest? The great chemist Frederick Kekulé discovered the circular molecular structure of benzene in a dream about a snake biting its own tail. You don't get that kind of deep revelation catching catnaps like Edison.
So, relax as you meditate on this thought-provoking column, knowing you are helping North Carolina take its place at the top.
Gary D. Gaddy works hard at being a man of leisure.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 6, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy