Idle Hands

The Bible say “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” I don’t much subscribe to what can be found in the Bible these days. I haven’t for well over a decade. And yet, there’s something ringing somewhat true in that statement for me in this season of life.

Idle hands.

Well, they beg to be filled with a drink. Or a pipe. Or even a cigarette. Those damn idle hands that I don’t quite know what to do with. I endlessly hit refresh on my phone. I try to read books. I traipse off to yoga class and cajole my friend to meet me at the gym. I beg my little one to let me read her a Boxcar Children book. I crochet. I attempt housework. I drive like it is, in itself, my job. I count the hours until sleep is appropriate. I do all the things.

And yet I still come home and find these idle hands waiting. I wish I could draw or paint. I want to refinish old furniture. I want to make things with my hands, but in the cleanest, least stressful and expensive way possible. I want badly to sew.

I’m terrified of these idle hands and the stillness they represent. Partially because it feels unproductive and I have an old story that not being productive is akin to laziness. Partially because to get still is to get seen within yourself and that can be a scary prospect. Idle hands are an opportunity I’m not always ready to rise up to. I miss numbing out my feelings and my time and my options with drinking and drugs. I miss knowing how my evenings are going to go and bouncing from an inebriated state to recovering from one, to gearing up for another. No idle hands there. Busy hands. Surviving hands. Making it all fucking work all of the time hands.

Life has improved immensely for me without the daily drain of substances. But the gravity of that life change leaves being this pull of emptiness. Idleness. Unknowing how to proceed next. It may be the gift of the path I’ve come to be on–it likely is. But for now, as it’s all so new and uncomfortable. It feels like a fear of idle hands. It feels like a pull to put something in them, in me. It feels like a foreign concept. It even feels shameful and wasteful at time.

It reflects so much on our collective overvaluing of productivity and perfectionism which robs us of our creativity as it squelches out any time for leisure and any hope of being an imperfect beginner. All those activities I listed as wants? Fear (and maybe opportunity and resource) stops my from trying. Fear of that novice stage. Fear of imperfection and frustration and wasting. Fear of falling in love with a hobby Ill have to so often put aside for my real life. Fear of so many things.

Fear really is such a bitch.

Maybe I won’t have these idle hands for long. Or maybe I’ll learn to live with them in a zen sort of way. Maybe I’ll start drinking again and remember, again, why that doesn’t ultimately work out well for me. There are many paths this road could take.

For today I’ve got some plans for my idle hands, and some thoughts on what about them is so damn scary. And that is enough.


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