“They will tell you you’re useless, if they can’t use you.”Marty Rubin
Society as one knows it has become more reliant on being productive in every waking moment of a person’s life. People in many countries literally work themselves to death for entities that could replace them once they’ve outlived their usefulness to the collective. The common theme of remaining busy at all times to show one’s productiveness has taken many away from their lives as a whole. While being productive and proactive can serve an individual in the long term achievement of their goals and desires, productiveness has its limits until, eventually, an individual burns out entirely.
Ironically, there are times when a person must essentially become useless to others if they wish to attain their own desires. A person that works solely to please society will never have time for themselves. They are a slave of their own choosing. What is the point of waking up and being productive for no reward? Why is pleasing others so much more important than achieving one’s own ends? Society has never truly given up slavery. It is only that man lives in an illusion of freedom while working to ensure everyone else is happy at one’s own expense day in and day out.
If an individual in the greater society wishes to find happiness and a higher quality of life, they must eventually learn the fine art of being useless at the right times. There is a fine line between being productive and being overburdened by the problems of others. If one doesn’t learn how to be unavailable or unreliable to solve the problems of other people, they will never have the time to take care of themselves and those they hold dear.
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”Marcus Aurelius
The discussion on being useless as a benefit is one of many concepts discussed in religious philosophies like Daoism. The philosopher Chuang Tzu tells a story about a tree that worked hard on being useless as a way to keep it from being chopped down by the carpenters. In its uselessness to humanity, the tree was able to outlive all the other trees that had better branches and appeared more lively. In a way, it’s like the one person who is always at work covering shifts and working overtime only to be rewarded with more work and less time for themselves. Then there is the conundrum of this person’s co-worker who never takes overtime, but manages to somehow keep their job regardless of the lack of personal sacrifice made.
In this instance, the only loser is the person who is carrying the company on their back because, in this sacrifice, they tell the world that there is nothing they are not willing to do to please their bosses. This individual hasn’t had the self awareness to realize that they are simply being used. They deserve their burden because they bring it on themselves.
The individual who doesn’t let work dictate their existence has an overall better quality of life because they knew the importance of time. This person has decided to not let others use them in a way that offers no benefit to their lives. Sacrifice is only noble when there is a reason to justify it. A greater goal or plan to eventually get out of the stage of overburdening oneself must be in play. The person who slaves away doing nothing but work or working to consistently please others at their own expense is the most useless person of all. This person is useless because they don’t have the self-love or self-respect to work their way out of a bad situation. They spend so much time pleasing others that they are literally angering everyone around them.
It should be plainly obvious that uselessness has its rewards within reason. Being useful is great, but it also has its limits. If one is not willing to dissapoint someone else for their own personal gain, they will be used until they are useless. To make oneself useless to an individual who wishes to burn one’s time away, the user now has to deal with the fact that the “useless” person will not allow themselves to have their time and energy wasted on one who doesn’t appreciate their sacrifice. If one is to make sacrifices, there must be a plan in place to ensure that this will only be a temporary phase and not the course of one’s existence. Sometimes, the most “useless” person is genuinely the most useful because they know how to use their time and energy.