Every time I come back to the forests of my childhood town in Northern Germany, the scenery is a little different:
Old trees have been chopped, new trees have been planted; rivers and creeks have grown, or have run dry. Sometimes I will see rabbits and foxes, at other times deers, and on the rare occasion even a blazing fire salamander.
One of the most peculiar changes in recent years, though, are the people.
The other citizens that decide to visit the forest. Whenever I see them, I get the feeling that times are changing and that I am – despite my comparatively young age – totally antiquated: While everybody else is jogging, jumping, running, sprinting and racing, I simply walk.
The result? Even pensioners outrun me, dressed in neon-colored and breathable sportswear, pinching me with their fitness walking poles if I don’t watch out.
As it turns out, I seem to be the only person that still enjoys strolling through the forest. Apparently, I’m the last man walking.
The Idle Rebel
Sure, you can train for a marathon. That’s fine with me!1 But what strikes me as odd is that I’m virtually the only person left that is still walking around aimlessly, without a major action plan in mind: All I want to do is breathe some fresh air and enjoy the wonderful scenery. Is that really such a strange thing to do?
When I see the hordes of athletes in the forest, I believe there’s something more to it.
Could it be that idleness is so frowned upon today that many people feel they need some kind of excuse in order to go outside?
It could be that the kids have to play.2
It could be that they’ve got some errands to do.
It could be their marathon training.
But taking one or two hours just to walk around and do nothing?
In times where work is worshipped as the only Goddess, idleness becomes an act of rebellion.
Good for us it’s so enjoyable.
So… I’ll just continue to walk and see what happens.
I won’t bring any protest signs to the forest either.3
Maybe you’ll join me, so we can confuse some more people about what we are up to, walking slowly, smiling at the world.
Idleness for the rescue.
- If nothing else, the softer forest soil will probably prevent major injuries in your joints and ankles. [↩]
- Parents with their children busy playing seem to be the only relaxed people out there. As the young ones are distracted, they find some time to simply enjoy the sun. [↩]
- Though I might bring some flowers. [↩]