Helping the slacker along
This post was written 4 years ago.
Fri, 22 Apr 2016
Three random things I've been thinking about during the last two weeks, possibly loosely connected.
Help versus supportI heard about this distinction first in an Osho video about bringing up children. I watched it last year after a friend had told me about her times as a sannyasin. It immediately made an impact, and I found I agreed. When parents help their children, it often means helping them along the way that the parents think is right. While the kinder thing to do would be to let the child find it's own way, and simply be there for them when they struggle. Listening to them, not giving directions. Support them when they need you, not help them when no help is asked for. This is an ideal, of course.
For me, there's a parallel with charity. Traditionally, the way charity is dispensed, is all on the terms of the giver, and while this way good things can be achieved, charity can lead to dependence, and damaging interference. And even when our intentions are good, do we always know what we are doing? I once read an interview with German theatre director Christoph Schlingensief where he said: "Why do we always want to help Africa, if we can't even help ourselves?"
I also just found this quote by George Sand: "Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it."
SlackerdomThe other day I found myself reading the Wikipedia entry about the term slacker and I was struck by how much I identified. And yes, I remembered right, it was my generation, 'generation X' that was called the 'slacker generation'. Not surprising we turned out that way. Spending our childhood at the tail end of flower power and anti-authoritarian education, who would have been there to drum any discipline into us? Except of course some parents or other figures of authority still did that, but not in my case.
It seems I was a somewhat gifted child. Not highly, but gifted enough to sail through school without so much as lifting a finger (leaving much space for, in turns, daydreaming and contemplating in depth my social inadequacies). Did anybody push me to make the most of my talents? Did I push myself? Nope. And thus a perfect slacker was made.
It is quite curious to be a slacker these days. It's unusual and totally counter the spirit of the times. Of course, I am not really a slacker anymore. But equally I cannot completely get it out of my system. Also - and here I honestly don't know if this is a good thing or bad - I might have already passed on a good portion of slackerdom to my children. But I must be careful not to label them here. Let's put it that way, if they ended up spending 5 hours a day training for the Olympics, they will not have got that from me. (I used to dream of being in the Olympics but somehow didn't make the connection that you'd actually have to work for it.)
As for me, I am trying to unslack myself a bit these days. I have already 'worked hard' many times previously, but the difficulty is knowing what a constructive working hard looks like, as opposed to just working long hours. But I am getting there.
On the other hand, I believe when enthusiasm finds the slacker, they can develop an enormous creativity, joy and tenacity, to a degree that a busy bee might not.
The thing is, as I've said before, I am very happy with where I am now. And though not an achievement in numbers, I can finally see it as an achievement no less. It is partly my inner slacker who's brought me here, so I've definitely made my peace with her.