On Uselessness

Topics: Utility, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Woods Pages: 3 (934 words) Published: June 21, 2013
On Uselessness

If I were to advise someone young how to choose his/her career, I’d start by asking this person to first find something useless. Then devote his/her time and energy to becoming profoundly proficient at it. If one has chosen something as being remotely useful, then drop it like a hot brick. One can do better than designing a better mouse trap, or a glass that won’t reflect light, or a device that transmits energy with no loss. Leave it to the work enthusiast. Surely there are more useless things to do. With the possibility of extinction ahead, what else makes sense? Man is a restless beast. Otherwise, I’d advise him to do almost nothing beyond providing for food, clothing, shelter and a certain degree of restrained companionship. Mankind, however, insists on being a nervous animal, a ferret of energy, striving for things he cannot—or ought not—have. So be it, I guess. We certainly have enough of such “stout upstanders.” But we—at least many of us—must live within the range of our various natures. We can, however, alleviate some of the most nervous part of our afflictions. There are always useless things to do, a plethora of them. So let’s get on with it. Find your useless niche and develop it to a fair-the-well. Unfortunately, usefulness has become important, but that should be of no concern to the reader. Take Einstein. On a higher level of useless activity, he concocted relativity while pushing a baby carriage, or some such useful activity. At first, he had no idea that his hypothesis might be useful – or even if he were correct. He spent the rest of his life proving its existence and veracity – and then its usefulness. He should have stopped long before, when the baby needed a diaper change. On a purer level, a nobler level, suppose I dreamed up a harmless activity associated with botany. Suppose I wanted to develop a Spanish Moss to withstand our colder winters of Canada. Now, just because it has the quality...
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