Tag Archives: An Apology for Idlers

Marginalia, no.212

Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson, An Apology for Idlers

A trick of alliteration will prevent forgetting: if the bark comes off in puzzle pieces, it’s a ponderosa pine. We camped all week in a grove of ponderosas and incense cedars, and when it wasn’t trees and mountains that distracted, it was birds: ravens, Steller’s jays, red-breasted sapsuckers, western tanagers, and black-headed grosbeaks. I’d spent an hour worrying which books to bring and settled on a Wodehouse collection, some Flann O’Brien, and Tove Jansson’s Moominsummer Madness for the kids. The Jansson we serialized at bedtime, but I only managed half a Wodehouse story and a mere two paragraphs of O’Brien. No complaints, however. The best holidays are perfect failures.

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Marginalia, no.7

Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson, An Apology for Idlers

I like to think that I have a deep but sadly unexploited faculty for idleness (which, by the way, is something quite different than a tendency toward boredom). In fact, I could do with a lot more idleness in my life, but sometimes we choose busyness and sometimes busyness chooses us.

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