Broad August burns in milky skies,
The world is blanched with hazy heat;
The vast green pasture, even, lies
Too hot and bright for eyes and feet.
Amid the grassy levels rears
The sycamore against the sun
The dark boughs of a hundred years,
The emerald foliage of one.
Lulled in a dream of shade and sheen,
Within the clement twilight thrown
By that great cloud of floating green,
A horse is standing, still as stone.
He stirs nor head nor hoof, although
The grass is fresh beneath the branch;
His tail alone swings to and fro
In graceful curves from haunch to haunch.
He stands quite lost, indifferent
To rack or pasture, trace or rein;
He feels the vaguely sweet content
Of perfect sloth in limb and brain.
~William Canton “Standing Still”
I flunked sloth long ago. Perhaps I was born driven. My older sister, never a morning person, was thoroughly annoyed to share a bedroom with a toddler who awoke chirpy and cheerful, singing “Twinkle Twinkle” for all to hear and ready to conquer the day.
Since retiring, I admit I am becoming accustomed now to sloth-dom. I am still too cheerful in the early morning. It is a distinct character flaw.
Even so, I’m not immune to the attractions of a hot hazy day of doing absolutely nothing but standing still switching at flies. I envy our retired ponies in the pasture who spend the day grazing, moseying, and lazing because … I have worked hard to make that life possible for them.
I want to use my days well yet I know August was invented for lulling about. Maybe there is a reason to be here beyond just warning the flies away but I’m not working hard to find out what it might be. So perhaps I’ll get a passing grade in sloth after all.
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