Busy Doing a Whole Lot of Nothing


I hate everything about that word. From its shape as it sits there on the white paper, to how it rolls off my tongue in casual disdain and how nauseously ignorant it sounds as I say it. If there is anything that irks me more than conscious bigotry, it is complete willful ignorance of everything that is wrong with the world. It makes me want to shake people. Rattle them into really seeing and more importantly – acting. Dismissal and inaction make for comfortable bedfellows which sooner or later will conceive discrimination.


Another word I mostly hate but sometimes guiltily love. Privilege makes my life easier. But I always knew it gave me a sense of purpose. In my head, I knew I would always have it but I needed to earn it. I lived by Alice Walker, telling myself that ‘Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet’. In my head, I had two rules to live my life. I needed to stay as far away from being apolitical and ignorant as possible and I needed to always be in perpetual action against injustice because I could. I pretty much threw myself into three years of activism and tireless work of some sort or another. In my head, I was making movements move; I was part of the whole system of taking baby steps towards achieving social justice and creating ripples of rebellion. I was always on the move. I was always working. Inaction is bad right? I didn’t want to be apathetic. (Do you like me yet, dear reader?)

Excellent rules to live by, right? Immensely self-righteous and selfless, right? Um, no.

Here it is- Feminism 101: Self love, everyday rebellion and recognizing tyranny will make movements move. Not a misplaced sense of guilt or reciprocity.

Whoops. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? Well, now I know. Goodbye job, goodbye institutional education (for now!) and goodbye to the most unrecognizable form of tyranny- the tyranny of productivity.

The tyranny of productivity. What a wonderful phrase. So wonderful that it deserves its own honored acronym. ‘TOP’. I invented it. You can quote me on that.

You know what I’m finding out now that I’m free from the TOP? That being busy doing nothing is a political act. I don’t mean that in a turn-your-face-away-when-you-see-unfair-things-happening sort of way. I mean that taking time off to travel, write, explore and laze is an inherently feminist act. Not only am I more aware of my own head and heart, I’m learning and unlearning. I’m experiencing people, places and ideas not with a tired mind but with a fresh heart. It’s like going to your favorite library and suddenly the librarian says, “You will find the Harry Potter books upstairs” and you exclaim, “ There is an ‘upstairs’ ?! I never knew!”

Injecting politics into recreation is a wonderful happy thing to do. So take that year off, or the weekend off, or leave early from work sometimes. You will change the world only by making yourself happy.



  1. Yearful of Sundays · November 12, 2014

    ‘The tyranny of productivity’ is a kickass term that you’ve coined. Get it patented, I tell you. I think the beauty of the term is that it can be condemned as both a capitalist slog-fest (the constant need to compete, earn and consume in a vicious cycle) and as a socialist dictum (“the society NEEDS you to work”). Heh, clever!
    Coming back to your post, it definitely feels SO liberating to have your time to yourself, for once, to do with it as you like. No compulsions, no obligations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time off, but lately I’ve started feeling the same old tussle (for me, at least) between pursuing unabashed, individualistic hedonism on the one hand, and an urge to do what I think I must in order to do justice to the privileges I’ve had in life (which include a good education, still inaccessible to many in our country). Maybe the latter qualifies as your TOP, after all?
    Oh, and I loved that library bit. Have fun, upstairs. 🙂

    ~ Amiya

    • lbanerji13 · November 18, 2014

      Thanks a lot Amiya 🙂 – and yes, the urge to repay privelege is always slightly misplaced my head. have a great South Africa adventure!

      • Yearful of Sundays · November 19, 2014

        Thanks! About 10 more days to go and can’t wait 😀

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