On Being Idle by A.G. Gardiner
In On Being Idle by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of idleness, perception, self-importance, acceptance, connection and honesty. Taken from his Windfalls collection the reader realises from the beginning of the essay that Gardiner is exploring the theme of idleness. Gardiner himself knows that he prefers to be idle yet he is offended should somebody suggest the same to him. It is one thing admitting to oneself that they might enjoy being idle. However for others to judge you as being idle might have its own degree of negativity. A negativity that could lead to unwanted consequences. With people considering a person to be of bad character due to their idleness. The story about the grandfather talking to his grandson is also interesting as Gardiner may be looking at the idea of self-importance. The grandfather obviously has a high opinion of himself or an inflated ego. Yet the grandson is more practical when he asks his grandfather will he be at the grandfather’s funeral. It is as though the grandson is aware of the circle of life. Yet the grandfather tries his best not to accept the circumstances that face him (death).
If anything the grandfather considers that others will not be able to live without him. Something which is obviously untrue as life must go on. Just as the grandfather’s own grandparents passed away so too will the grandfather. In time and as new generations arrive he will be forgotten about despite his best wishes. There is also a sense that Gardiner while he is lying in the woods listening to the surrounding sounds is making a connection with the world around him. He may eventually have fallen asleep yet he still nonetheless takes in everything. Which may suggest to some readers that being idle can require a certain level of concentration. One might not necessarily be doing anything productive with their time but they are still engaged with the world whether they know it or not. Which may lead the reader to think that being idle can be as time consuming as being constructive. Gardiner may also be suggesting that there are befits to being idle. He himself has enjoyed his time in the woods and with the beehive more so than he would have when it comes to writing his article for The Star.
The fact that Gardiner also intends to submit his essay as his article is not only clever but it is also a productive example of using idle time to one’s advantage. Gardiner may not have intended to submit his essay. However on reflection he realises that it is worthy of submission and that for one day at least he has not had to work. Rather he has been able to do as he wishes and enjoy his time being idle. What is also interesting is that Gardiner is guilt free about being idle. It is a period in his day that he enjoys and seems to relish. He has not only connected with nature but he has also managed to submit his essay to The Star. Ensuring that he keeps his job while at the same time being true to himself. This truthfulness which Gardiner shows throughout the essay could be important as it suggests that Gardiner is at one with himself. He may not wish for others to question his idleness as his pride may take a dent. However he has benefited from how he has spent his day.
Which may be the point that Gardiner is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that an individual should take time out from their lives and enjoy themselves. They may not necessarily be doing anything and it might be ironic but being idle can also lead to one being constructive. How long a person may be able to remain idle and constructive is a different matter. It may not be a direction that a person will continue to be successful. Particularly if the person is answerable to others (The Star). Rather it might be better for a person to have a balance in their lives to divide their time evenly and maintain a time for being idle and a time for work. Something that Gardiner himself may not be willing to accept in light of his fondness for being idle. There are only a limited number of articles that Gardiner’s employer will accept on the benefits of being idle. There will come a time when they request something more substantial. As to whether Gardiner is prepared for this time is a different matter. So fond is he of being idle that he may prefer to remain idle rather than continue with gainful employment. Something which may become problematic for Gardiner who in all likelihood needs an income.