Laziness; its exact meaning is a cloudy, curious thing.
I remember when I was young, probably in middle school, being called “lazy” by my teachers, left and right. I cannot argue I wasn’t, but the definition of “laziness,” according to their standards, was as follows:
Lazy [ley-zee] adj. : A student who, in her honors courses, holds marks of no higher than a B+ at any time.
Again, I shall not disclose whether or not I met the actual, set-in-stone description as recorded in the dictionary, as I believe my view on the matter would be far less than objective. Speaking of the dictionary, here is what it has to say about my situation:
Lazy [lā-zē] adj. : Not liking to work hard or to be active.
Admittedly, I was not the hardest worker when this “adj.” was bestowed on me. There were many times I would come home, throw down my bags, get on the computer and, as the expression says, “that’s all she wrote.” I might not have been the most committed to my schoolwork when I was a youngster, but there were other, less academic facets of my life in which I would have earned straight-A’s: family, fraternity, and reverie.
My kin, would balk upon the lecture of the above phrase. As much as I gave the appearance of “shock” and “rebellion,” my most intimate desire was to please them. Sadly, their minds were not like the grade books and holistic scales of modern education: they were unpredictable and, young as I was, I could not forecast what mark in them my work would hold. To the twelve-year-old me, I was shooting an arrow through a field of corn, hoping to catch a tiny sparrow that was perched on the stringy tip of a skinny stalk; their approval, in reach, was impossible to attain without a precise, yet flexible, tactic in persona. I was apathetic, I was happy, I was sad, and I cried when it seemed appropriate because, as we all know, emotional slips lead to failure and isolation.
Friends of mine were few and far between and, when I think of it now, I wonder how many were actually my friends. Ever-fluctuating, they molded my interests, like non-toxic clay, from vampires to werewolves to BDSM. They asked me the questions and I had to answer, and how else could I answer without executing the proper studies? I couldn’t disagree, and I couldn’t reason – that would have gotten me called “pretentious” quicker than quick – so I opened my mouth and vomited out the web page I had read the night before, in lieu of the chapters I ignored and the equations I had failed to memorize.
I was deemed a “potential dropout risk” when I was fourteen, but I didn’t let that get in the way of my one, solitary dream. At that point, I was dead-set on becoming a tattoo artist. I could spend hours with pads of paper, lining out designs for people who never paid and “big fans” who barely knew my name. Bathed in the swirling patterns of my colored pencils, they were my only hope for a future. I had to get out, I had to be something, I had to go out to the city to be invisibly there. Art school was the only place my grades wouldn’t have mattered; and those far-off institutions, to me, were the only places I might end up. Of course, my dreams wouldn’t come true, my counselor said: I was “lazy.” My work was barely passing. I needed to put down the pencils and the pens and the paintbrush, and do something with my life.
Today I sit at my computer, and think about how “lazy” I was. Sure, improvements were made after junior high. During my four years of high school, I never had anything below an “A-.” I wasn’t lazy, I thought, and I was going to make damn sure everyone knew it. I spent my evenings in study, my books and my pens and my pencils and my friends eventually restricted from my iron box of academic tenacity. I locked it tight, with enough room for myself and my formulas.
Could I tell anyone, then, what I really wanted?
Could I suppress my emotions to the point I flowed with the aura of the crowd?
To the latter, maybe, but I never got the chance to know what I wanted, or the time to know how I felt. Want was laziness, need was a myth, feeling was the result of boredom. The opposite of sloth is activity and, as I had been reminded, the active mind has no need. It does. It doesn’t ask other occupied minds to do for it. I was active, I was the mind, I had escaped that dictionary page and had leapt onto, what?
Where had I landed? I’m still not sure, but I can tell it’s somewhere behind the rest.
They walk ahead of me, shouting backward to ask me if I’ve overslept.