Every day, sloths sleep for fifteen to eighteen hours. I sleep for six. They enjoy the remainder of their humble lives swinging between treetops at a commendable speed of .17 miles per hour (that’s ten seconds per step). Sometimes, they’ll even swoop down from canopies to swim in rivers, and their facial structure ensures that they’ll do it all with a satisfied smile. Meanwhile, I spend my eighteen-hour days at school and home. I celebrate the completion of my homework, only to receive three new assignments the following day. The cycle continues; I’ve maintained virtually the same monotonous schedule since September.
I’ve become accustomed to this repetitive, almost mechanical routine. I find myself worshipping work and dedicating my present to my future. And it’s not just me. People have fostered a culture of constant work that berates those who take even a minute of rest. The word “laidback” has become synonymous with “lazy,” and nobody wants to be lazy. My father recoils at the notion of being relaxed as if it’s a crime. I’m so attached to my consistent workload that during two weeks of winter break, I had no idea what to do with myself. Unable to measure my value with academic assignments, I felt absolutely worthless. Though I appreciated my free time, guilt always crept into me by night. What use was I without something to do?
A collective obsession with work -- and my fear of falling behind -- have prevented me from fully enjoying myself at any given moment. As soon as I dare to relax, I’m overwhelmed with anxiety that others will continue working and leave me in the dust. Even more so, I dread the judgment I’ll face if my careful plans eventually unravel.
So, I believe in sloths. Sloths may not be dignified or successful, but they’re content. They don’t loathe themselves for sleeping fifteen hours a day, and they’re happy to rove treetops with lifelong smiles. I’m not advocating laziness or a nonexistent work ethic. I simply believe that diligence shouldn’t compromise happiness, and I refuse to feel ashamed during the time that I’m not working as hard as possible. In fact, I’ve discovered that I need some lazy moments to fuel my fruitful ones. It’s been difficult to shatter my workism -- the conviction that my identity and life’s purpose revolve around labor. Some days, I still feel inadequate for focusing on anything recreational. However, I’m slowly striving to be a little bit more like a sloth. Not entirely aimless, but confident enough to be still -- to hang from a branch once in a while and marvel at the sunshine.