Back in 2007 when Kurt Vonnegut died, the AV Club posted a list titled 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will. I’ve loved Vonnegut since I first read Breakfast of Champions as a teenager. I was an intensely prolific bookworm, but I’d never read anything like that. It was an eye-opener. I’ve continued to read him through the years, and was delighted by the AV Club’s list. I noted, however, they didn’t have one quote that goes through my mind with some frequency, which is this (bolded in the following excerpt):
Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.
— Kurt Vonnegut, on telling his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope
This quote is from an NPR interview with Vonnegut that I heard in the car on the way home from work one day in 2005. That part about our mission here being to just fart around? That really stuck with me.
I tend to be list-oriented and prize efficiency of movement and resources, so farting around doesn’t come naturally to me. But on the occasion that I do find myself starting to get concerned because I’ve been expending a lot of energy or time but accomplishing little, I remember this sentiment (sometimes quoted as “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different,” although I can’t find a source for that one) and I feel better. About everything, in my life, really.