Arms Folded Behind My Head

“Perhaps we should define the word, work. That might help us better understand why people need to work. What is work?” I asked.

“This is going to be a trick question,” Vicki replied.

I nodded. I had known Vicki for a couple of years. She was used to my trick questions. “It’s only a trick question because you really have to think about the answer,” I agreed.

“If you caught me at my office,” I continued, “leaning back in my chair, arms folded behind my head, feet up on the desk, how would you describe my activity at that moment?”

Vicki grinned, “I could say that you were goofing off, but I know better. You would be thinking.”

“And what would I be thinking about?”

“I don’t know, your next project, how to solve a problem, perhaps thinking about a decision that needed to be made?” she floated.

“Yes, so would you call that work?” I stopped as Vicki nodded in agreement. “And if one of your technicians goes outside to the picnic area for a break, and he isn’t goofing off, what would he be doing?”

I could see Vicki looking for the trick in the question. “Okay, if he is not goofing off, then he is probably thinking.”

“And what is he thinking about?” I asked.

“Well, he is probably thinking about his next project, how to solve a problem.”

“Yes, and so, would you call that work?”

2 thoughts on “Arms Folded Behind My Head

  1. Peter Dent

    This scenario reminds me of one encountered by Leonardo da Vinci. When he was working on the Last Supper he would come in to view the work for 20-30 minutes and stand and simply look at the in process mural then leave. He was thinking about it and was quoted as saying “Sometimes an artist is doing the most when he is appearing to be doing the least”. He kept on getting pestered by the friar in charge of his project to hurry up and get it done. (LdV was well known then and now about his slow pace and inability to complete projects so the friar was somewhat justified). He was struggling with the face for Judas told his sponsor, Duke Ludvico Sforza, that he planned to use the friar’s image for that worst of figures in the mural. The duke reportedly got a big laugh out of this comment. LdV got the last laugh over the friar.


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