June 18th, 2007


Laziness is not an excuse.

viedansante made a post that sparked a memory today. As I was replying to her post, I realized it was turning into a full-blown entry, rather than a comment:

After being told for years that I was a lazy sonofabitch in grade school, I informed my fifth grade teacher that, "I dunno, I guess I'm just lazy," when I was asked why I didn't do my math homework.

She looked down at me, the most honest and real look I've ever gotten from anyone, and she said, "You are not lazy, and I never want to hear you say that again."

She was so wonderfully, amazingly right about it all. That particular statement actually changed my life.

Huizinga would call her a "spoilsport". He defines the spoilsport as one who "shatters the play world itself. by withdrawing from the game he reveals the relativity and fragility of the play-world." It would have been so easy for her to play the game, to say, "That might be true, but it's not an excuse," or, "Yes, you are: I'm failing you." She could have been the referee and enforced those rules on me. Instead, she looked at the game I'd been taught, called the whole thing bogus, and showed me that I was worth more than someone else's definition of who I am.

It's true what they say, that one teacher can truly change the world. This one certainly changed mine.

That conversation is the reason I get so darn offended when I'm called "Lazy." I know that years of hearing that said to me, over and over and over again, had caused me to internalize it. It's also why I don't tolerate others being called lazy. I was involved in a conversation not long ago where it was insinuated that I had called people lazy (for something as silly as not completing an optional training program), and to describe how much that hurt is virtually impossible, even though I know, rationally, that no offense was meant.

I found a deep and abiding sense of self-worth in my teacher's statement that day. Now, I pounce on that game any time I see it and hope to the gods that I can spoil it for anyone else who might be tempted to play it.

We are not lazy. None of us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap in the sun.