Why We Can All Relate to Tim Kreider's Lazy: A Manifesto
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
If you want to stop feeling rushed, this might be the presciption you need.
If everyday is plagued with the feeling that you are soooo busy and yet no matter how much you "get done", there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, then this post is for you. Lazy: A Manifesto is a short audio essay by author Tim Kreider.
A brilliant collection of humor and insight, I discovered this gem through the Tim Ferriss Book Club. Kreider, who also is an impressive cartoonist, has authored a crazy book that is hilarious and existentially fulfilling at the same time. Each essay is observations about the good, bad, and the sensational of the human condition from his self-deprecating viewpoint. Career and politics, friendship and family, life and death, and love, of course, are all themes explored throughout We Learn Nothing.
I first read We Learn Nothing: Essays by Tim Kreider a few summers back where it earned a top spot on the short list of books that I recommend to others— no matter who's asking. I purchased the Kindle version of Kreider's compilation of essays while living and working on a farm in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. I enjoyed this book so much I purchased a hard copy after returning from my trip and lent it away without having the chance to read it again.
This book came to me at time in my life when for the first time since what felt like the childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons and Nintendo that I was not "So Busy. Crazy Busy". Apart from having to wake up with the sun to labor for a few hours watering the field and a (very steep) hill of fruit-bearing trees— with only buckets of water drawn from a well (it was more of a standing pool), followed by a personal favorite chore...managing the chicken coup... I never felt the angst of feeling busy. My day was mostly free to think about and practice the things that mattered to me.
The echoes of my life just a few months ago as an analyst working at a law-firm in the U.S. was relived in my mind while listening to Kreider critique the sort of life that people who claim the title of busy like a badge of honor. I felt a sense of amusement, followed by clarity, when I realized that my life wasn't as busy and chaotic as I lamented after Kreider narrates what a truly busy person is... the ER nurse who has been working 16 hour shifts all week or the single parent working three jobs to keep food on the table for their family.
"What those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet."
I was just bored and unhappy with how I spent my time.
Tim Kreider may be the most subversive soul in America and his subversions—by turns public and intimate, political and cultural—are just what our weary, mixed-up nation needs. The essays in We Learn Nothing are for anybody who believes it’s high time for some answers, damn it.”
—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
“Busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period.”
I originally wrote and shipped this post on my first and now defunct website back in May 2017. I was inspired to revisit Kreider's collection of wisdom after listening to an episode of the Tribe of Mentors podcast titled 'Busy Is A Decision'. The themes and insights explored by Debbie Millman on Ferriss' new goliath of a podcast dug up the the same feelings that resonated so powerfully when first listening to Kreider's Manifesto.
The episode features insightful experiences and advice on how to navigate through our busy lives from celebrated designer and author Debbie Millman. Interviewer Tim Ferriss uses his formulaic superpower of extracting what the best-of-the-best have learned and distills and packages it for us to download in a digestible, engaging 26 minute podcast. Perfect for listening to during our busy commutes to our ever so busy days that make-up our one busy life.
“Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something, you make the time to do things. I think we’re now living in a society that see busy as a badge. It has become cultural cache to use the excuse ‘I am too busy’ as a reason for not doing anything we don’t feel like doing.”