Maisie the Lazy Bird
I have a nickname from childhood, coined and used solely by my immediate family. I’ve probably mentioned it before: Maisie. It’s derived from Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.” Maisie, the lazy bird.
And I am a lazy bird. The bird that feels like she does not have the time or energy to sit on her nest. The bird that will not wake up before the sun pierces her defiantly shut eyelids.
But I’ve been waking up earlier lately. And by early, I mean before 10 a.m., which really is a feat for this self-described narcoleptic. And I’ve noticed a few things whilst I’ve been roaming in those early daylight hours. People.
I usually feel like some kind of perverse alien creature at U.Va. when I compare my sloth-like tendencies to the near-psychotic ambitions of the people around me. Work hard, play hard. Like any good college kid, most of us try to follow this mantra, which is looming constantly overhead as we run imaginary races against our peers. Even I, as the queen of the lazy birds, will have spurts of working hard and playing harder. It’s a lifestyle we’re too busy following to ever question.
And yet everywhere I look I see something lacking. I see something missing from the highly-caffeinated, highly-competitive students around me. What could it be? Surely not a flaw in the work-hard, play-hard design? Surely no one following this fool-proof plan could ever be described as a “lazy bird.”
But we are guilty of laziness. We are all guilty — well, most of us anyway. We are lazy in the one area of life that we really cannot afford to ignore: taking care of one another.
I talked to my mother on the phone last night, and in between the dramatic soliloquies of me, myself and I, I mentioned the present I had picked out for my father’s upcoming 61st birthday. For the first time in a long time I have money that is my own, and I can afford to drop a few bills for a very cool present. My mother choked up a little when I described the gift to her, and I was happy that she was both happy and impressed. I was being thoughtful, gracious — a good daughter. But at the end of my phone conversation, I realized I was also being lazy.
In what way could my actions be described as lazy? A month ago I had big plans to write my father a long letter, a letter thanking him for funding my study abroad trip, a letter thanking him for his endless support, a letter wishing him the happiest of birthdays.
But spending two paychecks on a super neat gift was easier. Writing a letter, straining over my abysmal handwriting, going to the store to buy stamps and pathetically asking my sister how to address an envelope — all of this seemed like too much to accomplish. A few clicks online and a credit card number was so much more appealing. And he would love it. So did it really matter that I had not spent a chunk of my precious time creating it?
What I’m trying to say is that it does matter. It always matters. And we forget that. I forget it every day and maybe this is the first time in a long time that I am reminding myself. It is so easy to move through life working hard and playing hard and forgetting about all the people around you who would maybe like a letter every once in awhile. A quick sideways hug and a “we need to catch up” as you’re running to class or to the gym or attempting to conquer the world does not count. It does not mean anything. Even if you are sincere, your words fall away, and all the person you’re talking to can see is your faint form, receding into the distance.
We are being lazy with each other. We are all letting each other off the hook so that we can be let off the hook as well. But it’s my last year at this University, and I don’t want to be the lazy bird who can’t take a second out of her day to tell someone he or she matters. Because as much as I’d like to think I can, I cannot live up to the expectations set for me — for all of us — without some others helping me along the way. We need to make time for each other. Time not spent on reading or on drinking or on working out. Time just lounging, ignoring our nests or our responsibilities — even if just for a little while.