Piddling: The Art of Passing Time Without Wasting Time
It seems that the art of "piddling" is predominantly a male thing and might even be genetic. I've been married to a bona fide piddler for more than 40 years and so far, have been unable to actually piddle at anything myself.
I Married a Piddler
I enjoyed reading an article in the February, 2012 edition of Southern Living Magazine, titled, “The Fine Art of Piddling”. The article was written by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Rick Bragg and should be read by anyone who is a piddler or anyone who is married to a piddler.
I Married a Piddler
I have known for forty years that I married a piddler. Since I have never been known to piddle, I had a hard time understanding what is required to become a proper piddler. Rick Bragg helped me better understand piddling and just how difficult it can be to piddle correctly.
Piddling – Passing Time, But Not Wasting Time
Piddling is something similar to puttering. Piddling, it seems, is a way to pass the time, not necessarily to waste time, but to spend it in a way that causes no regret or concern by the piddler even though nothing is really accomplished. To actually accomplish something removes us from piddling.
A Classic Example of a Piddler
As I said before, I am not a piddler, but my husband is. He mostly prefers to practice his craft while he is out in his workshop, which is a single car garage that has been converted into his workshop. Here is a place where he can go to freely piddle. For him, piddling in his shop consists of such things as moving objects from one cluttered area to another without any real reason for doing so. It also involves sorting out tiny little screws, nails, and fasteners of every type into containers of like fasteners. These fasteners are not to be used right away, and indeed, may never be used; but sorted they shall be. This sorting and mindless moving of miscellaneous objects can sometimes use up hours of his time. Nothing is ever accomplished but he seems to be satisfied with the fact that he has piddled.
Is Piddling a Skill That Can be Learned?
I really tried to find something in my own life that I could consider piddling. I even asked my husband if he could come up with something I could do that would be considered piddling. We both drew a blank on that, so I guess if you aren't born to piddle, it is a skill that cannot be learned.
To the best of my ability to understand piddling, it can be compared to a man who goes fishing without ever putting a hook or bait on his line. He casts his line out into the water and sits back to watch it disappear into the water, knowing full well that he will not catch a fish without a hook on the line. This seems to be the epitome of piddling. If you actually go fishing, that is not piddling because catching a fish or even attempting to catch a fish is a productive and meaningful activity and not piddling. The man could also sharpen his hooks at this time as a further act of piddling. Since he does not intend to use the hooks, he is piddling.
Rick Bragg, in his article, says, “No one born on this planet is purely piddle free.” Because he seems so sure of this fact, I will continue to search for my own “art of piddling”. Maybe in the end, just searching for it could be considered piddling.
Southern Living Magazine, February, 2012, Southern Journal, “The Fine Art of Piddling” http://www.southernliving.com/community/rick-bragg-southern-journals