Couch Potato: Calling all the Slackers

There are idlers and idlers, who form a contrast.

There’s the one who’s an idler through laziness and weakness of character, through the baseness of his nature… Then there’s the other idler, the idler truly despite himself, who is gnawed inwardly by a great desire for action, who does nothing because he finds it impossible to do anything since he’s imprisoned in something, so to speak, because he doesn’t have what he would need to be productive because the inevitability of circumstances is reducing him to this point. Such a person doesn’t always know himself what he could do, but he feels by instinct, I’m good for something, even so! I feel I have a raison d’être! I know that I could be quite different! For what then could I be of use, for what could I serve! There’s something within me, so what is it! That’s an entirely different idler.

What do the 2019 movie, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and a quote from a legendary artist, Vincent Van Gogh, have to do with each other? Well, on the surface, absolutely nothing. And yet, these two seemingly unrelated things have been swirling around together in my head, gradually coalescing into a starry peanut butter soup. 

I believe life is messy and jumbled; my thoughts can be equally so. But, if you’ll indulge me for a few minutes (perhaps while eating a bagel or listening more than watching an episode of Friends), there’s a lot we can learn from a chromosome-heavy friend and an ear-deficient artist.  

Let’s soar into this think-piece looking at The Peanut Butter Falcon. Besides having one of the greatest movie titles ever, the Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming story about Zak, a man with Down Syndrome, who is forced to live in a retirement home. Dissatisfied with his lot in life, Zak runs away to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler. 

The movie highlights the difference between what society believes is important (a sanitized, stable, but ultimately stifling environment) and what life actually should be (a wild, dirty, unpredictable experience that is ultimately irreplaceable and priceless). The Peanut Butter Falcon shows that regardless of the hand life deals us, our unique attributes allow us to have a life full of novel experiences and relationships. 

One of my favorite scenes from the Peanut Butter Falcon is actually one of the first scenes in the movie. The movie opens with our loveable retard, Zak, giving an old woman at the retirement home (is it redundant to specify that she is old?) a pudding cup and a drawing. The drawing, despite only being a few crudely drawn pictures, convinces the woman to pretend to choke on the pudding cup. During the ensuing commotion, Zak attends to escape from the home. 

Following the failed escape attempt, Zak’s social worker discusses the note with Zak and his elderly roommate. The social worker points out that the note is surprisingly creative, to which Zak’s roommate interjects, “Not just creative. It’s genius. Do you know why? That’s an advertisement for what he wants to do with the rest of his life.” 

I get it now, it’s the simplicity of how Zak is able to interpret what he perceived to be his life’s purpose doodled on a piece of paper in the most creative manner. Although Zak might be mentally handicapped, he was able to come up with the right set of images (which was influenced by long hours of idling/slacking off, and watching his favorite TV show) to not only convey to the woman his desire to escape but also convince her there is more to him. Zak’s roommate is correct in his assessment. The move was genius!.

Let’s face it; here at Couch Potato, we are all idlers and enjoy slacking off. “What?!” you say, “I’m not an idler!” Well, I’m going to label you an idler anyway. If you don’t like that, you’re welcome to stop me. But, you won’t. Because…you know- you’re a slacker. 

Hey, don’t fight it! If this is any encouragement Vicent Van Gogh also identifies as an idler. Woah….It’s almost like things in an article all connect to each other. I self-identify as a good writer. Now “Vincent Van Gogh-es Down The Street Kidnapping Children’s quote is fairly long. I don’t have the brainpower to consider the whole quote at once, so let’s break it down into parts. 

“There is a great difference between one idler and another idler. There is one who is an idler out of laziness and lack of character (Which are You?), owing to the baseness of his nature.

They can call us lazy. They can tell us we lack character; that it is a part of our nature. They can give us all of those labels because you know what? Maybe they’re right. Maybe we are lazy. And maybe if we were raised on a farm and had to wake up at the crack of dawn every day to milk cows, we would have built up more “character”. Or maybe we’d have hand cramps and they’d have a stack of empty buckets and a bunch of full udders. I don’t know which it would be. 

The point is they can choose to believe that we’re lazy bums and there’s nothing we can say to prove otherwise. But maybe, there’s a little more to it than that. 

“Then there is the other kind of idler, the idler despite himself, who is inwardly consumed by a great longing for action who does nothing because his hands are tied because he is, so to speak, imprisoned somewhere, because he lacks what he needs to be productive because disastrous circumstances have brought him forcibly to this end.” -Vincent Van Gogh-Gogh Gadget!

Perhaps there is more happening under the surface than what you can see from on top of the water. Maybe there is an entire world inside my head that you can not see; that you do not know. A place that once was a great city, but has since been destroyed. 

Perhaps this desolate ruin is full of ambitious, capable men; men with a vision of a city that isn’t full of busted pipes, crumbled walls, and fallen overpasses. Men who believe in a beautiful metropolis where everything works. They long for things to change. But with so much damage, how could they even begin to make a difference?

“Such a one does not always know what he can do, but he nevertheless instinctively feels, I am good for something! My existence is not without reason! I know that I could be quite a different person! How can I be of use, how can I be of service? There is something inside me, but what can it be? He is quite another idler. If you like, you may take me for one of those.” -Vincent Van Gogh-ing ALL THE WAY! TOUCHDOWN!

The paths ahead of us twist and turn and are shrouded in darkness. We might sometimes struggle to see the path. Hell, we might struggle to see a way forward most of the time! During these times, when we have lost our sense of direction and sense of purpose, maybe it’s not so bad to idle. 

After all, if you’re lost, the best course of action is usually to stop and ask for directions. 

So let’s all take a seat and rest a bit. And while we idle, let’s raise a glass to all they have labeled us; to the lazy ones, the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs shoved into square holes, the witless,  the wooden-headed, the goof-offs, the skylarks, the smartypants, the whackos, the video-gazers, the slackers, the daydreamers, and the idlers. 

Here’s to our community. Here’s to Couchpotatonline!

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