“Oh, I just can’t be bothered,” said Alice to no one in particular. Presumably me, since I was the only other person with her in the living room.
“You what?” I asked, perplexed.
“I have laundry to do, but I just can’t be bothered.”
“So you mean you don’t want to do it.”
“Well, I suppose, but. . .”
“So you’re just being lazy.”
“Well. . .” she trailed off.
I looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
“I just can’t be bothered!” she maintained.

I burst out laughing. Her Kiwi accent, a pleasant mix of British proper, Aussie lilt and the Canadian “aye”, cracked me up. It seemed to me that she was merely employing a euphemistic excuse for resolved indolence. Yet, she spoke so decorously that it seemed more a righteous justification than a flimsy excuse.

This phrase, “can’t be bothered”, embodies Kiwi culture. If there is a task to be done, it’s not that a Kiwi is slothful and just “doesn’t want to do it.” It is the task that’s the demanding whiner, I dare say that the task is even shaking its metaphysical fist, shouting at the poor Kiwi, yelling to be completed. A Kiwi leads a lifestyle founded on leisure; the existence of a task threatens to interrupt that relaxation. One could even conclude that the villainous task is making personal threats to the Kiwi.

Now, we Americans, hard-working, task-driven, money-making achievers that we are, look down on those who “do nothing”. We’re expected to be efficient, we’ve got to produce. Time is money. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve been struggling with this time equals money issue since I began college. All of a sudden, after arriving on campus, chunks of time dropped in my lap. I had so much time I didn’t know what to do with it all. If I read a book or watched TV, I always felt like I was wasting time. I’d ask myself, “Is this getting me somewhere? Is reading this book helping my career?” It was so ingrained into the fiber of my mind that if I wasn’t doing something to further my education in my future profession, I must be wasting time. So in addition to working a few hours a week and keeping up good grades, I managed to fill up my time with fairly useful activities, each culminating in a small round bullet point I could then list on my resume, the resume that will eventually get me the job. But what if I don’t want to live to work? Kiwi’s certainly don’t.

I started reading Gone With the Wind last week. I spend probably an hour or two every day absorbed in the collapse of the Confederacy and King Cotton, and the endeavors of narcissistic green-eyed Scarlett to restore her extravagant pre-war lifestyle that had been filled with dresses, dances and boys. This charming literary classic isn’t any substitute for a history course, but it reveals a personal story from the opposing team, another look at southern slavery, one that wasn’t all lashings and slave cruelty. The South possessed an interesting culture, a lifestyle that went up in flames in the wake of the Yankee army.

I haven’t made any money reading this book. I doubt it would do me any good if I put it on my resume. It has, however, given me a small new perspective on the world; no one can put a price on that.