“An idle mind is a questioning, sceptical mind. Hence it is a mind not too bound up with ephemeral things, as the minds of workers are. The idler, then, is somebody who separates himself from his occupation: there are many people scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation”
Clearly that’s not me stringing those words together. Firstly, there are no typo’s for eagle-eyed Paul to correct (Paul delights in sweeping up the mess I leave on the CycleStuff site. Curse those IT pedants*) and secondly, the language belongs to the Victorian era. An epoch of steam and iron, empire and engineering.
Oh, and single speeds (pictured). Not that I’m obsessed with them or anything….
No, those words belong to Robert Louis Stevenson, he of ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ fame. I found them on the pages of the Idler magazine whilst checking out subscription details.The minute I read them, I knew those words have even greater relevance now; an age in which labour saving devices (like the laptop I’m typing this on). gobble time down rather than freeing it up.
It is so easy to go through life in automaton fashion. Wake up, shower, breakfast, work, dinner, TV-evening-brainwash, bed. We’ve become conditioned to do it. A conveyor belt of energy sapping, daily, mind numbing chores, rarely creating the space to think and reflect. Fortunately help is at hand. The answer lies in the shed/garage/hall (delete as appropriate) and has a saddle stuck on top of it.
It dawned on me that all the major decisions and big ideas that have crossed my mind in the last 20 years, have happened whilst running along a hilltop ridge or spinning the cranks of my bike. These activities have one major thing in common; individual space, forging the freedom to think, the space to plan and the resolve to act. The great irony is that it’s possible to be far more productive in the long run to ditch immediate chores than it is to complete them. The great news is that there’s often great opportunity to do so. Cycle your city to contemplate the world. Ride the trails and see the wood for the trees. Dub it productive loafing. If it has a catchy name, it has a better chance of catching on.
Tonight’s plan is to head to Maindy track and lose myself in the rhythm of the chain-gang. Empty the head of clutter and the legs of energy. I bet I work through a problem or two while I’m at it. A beer will inevitably settle any private debates. If you ever need an excuse to get out on your bike (really, who needs excuses?), I hope Mr Stevenson’s sharp observation adds to your armoury.
*Really that should read ‘thanks for the corrections!’.
A footnote apology: I’m really, really sorry about the title. I was aiming for the mother of all puns. A true motherpunner. I promise not to do it again.