Slacking Off

By: Marilyn K. Neulieb

Volume 16, Issue 8, August 2021

[How many of us think the summer goes way too fast? Marilyn Neulieb captured the reality of the dog days of summer - enjoy!]

Slacking off

Playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) said that slacking off was the most difficult job in the world. It’s 12:15 this summer afternoon, the cell phone is off and I’m proving Oscar wrong.

I’m plopping down in the backyard on this tan canvas hammock, dropping my head on the built-in pillow and doing absolutely, positively nothing. After all, the dishes can wait and so can the oil change and the bill paying. Ah, to lose the sense of time . . . obligation . . . responsibility. This is the easiest job in the world as I float from right . . . to left . . . to right . . . to left.

H-m-m. Just call me Lazy Bones, as I’m baskin’ and relaxin’ in the warm summer sun. My legs are getting limp now and they’re letting go all the way down to the toes. My belly is sinking into the fabric of the hammock, now the back, and my hands have flopped together in front. Right . . . Left . . . Right. I feel the soothing transition. It’s happening. With lips slightly parted, face softened and eyes closing out the world, I’m cruising into that carefree dreamland . . . suspended.

The tension’s leaving, contentment’s settling in and I’m letting myself totally go.
Inhale . . . Exhale . . . Inhale . . . With each breath more shallow than before, I’m returning,  returning home and at peace under the nurturing rays of the sun. I’m almost slipping . . . into . . .  I always told my husband not to buy me a hammock because it’d just get dusty. Boy, was I wrong. Right . . . Left. . .

Lifting my thoughts with each breath, I’m almost . . . almost . . . there, almost to that tranquil state of serenity . . . that utter calm . . . the still point. H-m-m.

Suddenly I’m a kid again at the neighborhood playground. It’s a warm summer day. I’m sitting cross legged in the sand box, alone, cupping the dry gray sand in both hands and, as the fingers part, the grains flow free of each other and down. Over and over again, I scoop up the grains and then watch them leave, each in its own way, each on its own time, each settling in its own place. Scooping up . . . releasing . . . scooping up . . . releasing. So mesmerizing, so ethereal, so otherworldly. Inhale . . . Exhale . . .  Inhale.

From the confines of this hammock, life is beautiful, life is grand, never too harried to ponder. H-m-m. A car just whizzed by. Oh, well, my car, the oil change, the bills, why worry? I’ll do them tomorrow. This is my time, time to be. It’s all about being, not doing. Just being . . .Yikes! The bills have to be done now, now, now so tomorrow runs smoothly.

I’ll still have the oil change at 4:00 and someone’s coming to fix the washing machine at 1:30. There’s the chores, the everything. I’m never freed up. Hop out of this lazy hammock. Get productive. Turn the cell phone on. It’s already 12:25. I’ve wasted 10 minutes.

O.K., Oscar, this time you’re right. Slacking off is the most difficult job in the world. But you haven’t always been right. I know for sure that one of your famous quotes is totally wrong. That’s when you said that a man can be happy with any woman as long as he doesn’t love her.

By Marilyn K. Neulieb, story for the dog days of summer . . .

Slacking Off is for any age. [Photo by Olivia Goodfellow]
Marilyn K. Neulieb is a member of Poets & Writers, INK of Cape Vincent, N.Y. She was the 2015 runner-up in non-fiction at the Jefferson Community College North Country Writers Contest. Her work has been accepted by Christian Science Monitor, Mother Earth News, Ideals, Alternative Living, Home Power and many more. Living off the grid for close to four decades, surfaced her bent to write.

What are your favourite summer slacking off photos? I would love to add some more.

Tracy Deerfield shared this photo in our December 2020 Photo contest. "The girls are sitting on a bench in Clayton right on the Riverwalk. . . we were at a house in the village for the summer and every night we walked to see the sunset. The River is our place of peace"

Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 8, August 2021, Essay

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