I love Leunig. In my view he is a national treasure.
Going through the filing cabinet this morning I came across a copy of one of his hand-written articles. In it he talks of the importance of resting in this world where it has become almost a sin to admit tiredness.
Reading it, I realised the mistake I’ve been making in not heading his words. Even in retirement I’ve been so busy I’ve forgotten how to relax. So I’m starting anew with this article as my bible.
I’m reproducing it here as a public service. I’m no doubt breaking many laws in doing so, but it’s such an important article that I’m taking the risk.
Below you’ll find a scan of the original article from the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday August 10 1966, along with a transcription. Try to read the scan; the hand-written words seem to have more meaning than the transcription.
To open the scan in a new window, click here.
In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth
having?” I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and
having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must
rest, Vasco — otherwise you will become RESTLESS! I believe the world is
sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness.
While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the
prolonged, ongoing state of fatigue, to which our world seems to be
rapidly adapting, is ultimately soul-destroying as well as
earth-destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take
root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most
noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our
CONSCIENCE and must be heeded or else we will not survive.
When you are tired you must HAVE that feeling and you must act upon it
sensibly — you MUST rest like the trees and animals do. Yet tiredness
has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness
has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see
people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity —
cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard
and ugly — so cruel and meaningless — so utterly graceless — and being
congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside
themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.
And of course, Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural
feelings are denied — they turn into the most powerful and bitter
poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these
consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
So I gently urge you, Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat — learn to curl
up and rest — feel your noble tiredness — learn about it and make a
generous place for it in your life and enjoyment with surely follow.
I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.
Yours sleepily, Mr. Curly x x x