Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Father of Invention

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Ever wonder why we don't hear anything about the father of invention? Is it because they don't really want to talk about him in polite company? Perhaps they are just a bit ashamed of him?

You see, the father of invention is laziness. Laziness doesn't get the respect it deserves. Hard work is supposed to be good for a person and build character. If it's so good for us, how come so many of us keep avoiding it? I think hard work is over rated.

Think about it, if we weren't afraid of hard work, we'd all be dibble stick barbarians. We are too lazy to plant our fields by poking a stick in the ground over and over again to plant seeds. Our inventions have allowed us to mechanize the whole process. Today's commercial farmer doesn't have to get much dirt under his fingernails. Now I'm not saying today's farmers are lazy. They actually still work hard. The ones who really benefit are the 97% of the population that no longer have to work the soil.

Cheap oil has powered the machine age. Our labor saving inventions provide our necessities with a lot less brow sweat than it used to take. That's the mother and father of invention working together: finding a lazy way to get what we need.

Transportation has also benefited by the illegitimate offspring of mother and father invention. Few of us walk the miles our great grandparents had to walk in their day to day lives. We've invented machines for that. We are too lazy to walk our 20 miles a day.

Cheap oil was the mother's milk of our industrial machine age. Now the cheap stuff is gone. We still have an awful lot of necessities that need to be filled. We all still like to eat, and don't want to work real hard for it.

Will we have to all go back to the land with our dibble sticks? Maybe more of us will have to provide our own food, but I've still got a lot of hope for the father of invention. There are ways of producing food that have low energy inputs -both chemical and physical energy. Permaculture comes to mind. Once established, it's a pretty low demand system. No doubt other lazy methods will also be developed.

The power of laziness can be applied in many situations. For example, I'm lazy and don't want to gather any more firewood that I have to. The lazy solution involves employing low cost insulation to reduce my firewood needs. If I wasn't lazy, I'd gladly chop a dozen cords of wood every year.

The key to laziness is knowing how to apply it. It might be necessary to put in a little work up front for big laziness pay offs later. A permaculture garden takes work to set up, but properly done, you're grandkids will still benefit from it. Making a house weather tight takes some work, but it frees up time and money for many lazy years to come. Setting up an off grid house takes work, but when the electric bill disappears, that's on less bill you won't have to work to pay off.

The mistake many people make is accepting short immediate laziness instead of future long term laziness. Being too lazy to insulate the house causes unnecessary work to heat the house in future winters. If you are too lazy to grow your own food, (in a low effort way, if possible) then it's work work work all the time to earn your daily bread.

Planning and thinking is often mistaken for work. Anything that can be done with your feet up on your desk, drinking a hot coffee, sheltered from nasty weather, and with clean hands, is a lazy man's job. It can save you from real work -done with heavy things, in uncomfortable circumstances. Don't know why thinking isn't more popular.

So let's hear it for the under appreciated father of invention: laziness. May it always serve you well -as it has served me.



  1. Great point there Sixbears!Never looked at it quite like that! I shall reevaluate my position immediately short term lazy vs long term lazy Thank you for opening my eyes!


  2. I like the way you think : )

    Though I prefer to call it "working smarter, not harder". Ya know, kinda like "sanitation engineer"...

  3. Since I ride everywhere, my blood pressure has gone up and I am in poor shape. Therefore, I must go out and briskly walk to keep myself well. Sometimes the lazy part can kill you.

  4. Hard work pays off in the future - laziness pays off NOW! :^) Saw a shirt with that slogan, gave me a chuckle.

    Another one - give a lazy man a job and he'll find the easiest way to accomplish it.