Is Uselessness Gorgeous?

How much of your life is about resume-building?  

photo (1)

Or do you live with someone who expends extraordinary energy building up his/her vita?  We seem to be a culture obsessed with doing stuff that will make our or our loved ones’ futures easier or more successful.

[Note:  I speak here primarily about the privileged among us – those of us blessed with educational opportunities and the possibility to expect some semblance of “success.”]

We work and then we work some more,  hoping to achieve our grand purposes to the point of exhaustion.

  • High school students –  and even middle school students –  are pressured to build noteworthy activities and honors lists for college applications.
  • College students compete with each other for good grades and impressive internships.
  • College graduates seek cool jobs that will look good on graduate school applications or they work to move up the proverbial ladder towards their dream jobs.

As I shared yesterday, many young adults don’t have time for anything but work at least according to this article.

Even some pastors have been known to use churches as stepping stones, moving into bigger and bigger congregations.  Or at least this used to be true.

We lead purposeful lives, spending most of our hours towards accomplishing something.  But what if we took a slice of each day accomplishing nothing?

Yesterday our staff visited the The Happy Show, an art exhibition by Stefan Sagmeister, now on display at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Go see it if you happen to be in Chicago.

One of the highlights is a piece (shown above) created out of white post-it notes that – when oscillating fans blow the post-its – spells out Uselessness is Gorgeous.

Since this exhibition is about happiness, Sagmeister’s point is – perhaps – that it makes us happy to accomplish things.  And it makes us happy to accomplish nothing.  Just as we long to create, there is also a deep longing to be able to rest.  We all need time when nobody is grading us, nobody is assessing us, nobody is asking anything of us.

Depending on the season of our lives, this can be either easy as pie or nearly impossible.  But Sagmeister is definitely onto something.  Uselessness is indeed gorgeous from time to time.

2 responses to “Is Uselessness Gorgeous?

  1. Reblogged this on katyandtheword and commented:
    Another thought about busyness, sabbath and creativity.


  2. My focus used to be on how I looked to others, how accomplished I was, what I knew, and what my title was. Then one day, someone asked me what my great-grandfather did for a living; what his educational level was, what his greatest accomplishment was. I could answer none of these questions. It was then that I realized that making a name for myself was kind of silly. The only people who are remembered beyond a generation or two are those who were notoriously bad! Since then, I’ve been working at making large deposits into my ERA instead of an IRA. That’s Eternal Retirement Account. The interest accrued on those deposits is out of this world!



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