Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In Defense of Sloth
This is a short story I wrote in college to enter in a scholarship contest. "In Defense of Sloth" was the subject we were given.
A funeral eulogy is a belated plea for the defense delivered after the evidence is all in.
-Irvine S. Cobb
I am a squirrel and I move fast.
“Take it slow. Take it easy” was what Sloth always used to say. Sure, Sloth was lazy as hell. We all know that. He would rather starve than have to reach out and grab a leaf. In the end his laziness got the better of him.
I remember when I first noticed Sloth’s starving condition. I told him, “Hey Sloth, you don’t look so good today.” He looked skinny for a sloth, probably weighed in at no more than twenty pounds. I asked him, “You eating?” He told me “No.” No, he wasn’t eating.
Sloth was too busy to eat. You’re all laughing, and I know it sounds crazy. Sloth wasn’t active his entire lifetime, but he always seemed to have an explanation for all of his inactions. Either he was dreaming, meditating, or just finding images in the patterns and curves of tree bark, all of which made him too “busy” to climb trees with me, to look for food, or even to procreate. He was a strange creature to be sure, and I know many species were skeptical of his lifestyle, but one thing remains true: he was a great friend.
“Take it slow. Take it easy.” Sloth first presented me with this motto after I had my heart attack. The only time I’ve known Sloth to move anywhere from his tree was when he visited me in the hospital during recovery. When my wife reported to me that he had arrived--that he had actually dropped from his post on the tree and crawled over to see me, I was shocked and touched.
“Squirrel,” he said to me sluggishly, “What makes your little heart quiver so?” Sloth was sure that my neuroses, which physically manifested as quick, spastic motions, had been the cause of my heart attack. “I’m always afraid” I replied. “Of what?” he asked me, looking directly at me with his lazy eye. Peering into his calm albeit off-centered pupil, I realized and responded, “I don’t know, Sloth, I don’t know.”
I knew from then on that Sloth had changed my life with his simple wisdom, and by slowing down I would never be the same irrational, overanxious squirrel that I had previously been. I haven’t had any health problems since.
Sloth could stop the craziness of life to a grueling halt. He paused to observe life slowly and carefully. He appreciated nature to its minute details and had all the time in the world to enjoy nature’s vitality as it occurred around him. He gave himself to sleep because it was the best way to dream. And though his last sleep was forever, I know in my now normal-beating heart that he is having a most profound dream.
In defense of our dear friend, Sloth, whose slow existence influenced and intrigued countless creatures, and who saved my life, may he rest in eternal laziness.