When action grows unprofitable

Matt joins Arnold the Snoring Pig in a little afternoon shut-eye, August 2013

Matt joins Arnold the Snoring Pig in a little afternoon shut-eye, August 2013

“When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.”Ursula K. Le Guin

When I read this quote I liked it instantly.  As a librarian, I tend to prioritize information gathering over action, and action over sleep.  But Le Guin’s formula makes a lot of sense to me.  It’s very easy to get stuck in a cycle of doing something that is no longer helpful, and may even be harmful.  Habit is a powerful force.  It’s also important to remember that sometimes, all we need to do to improve things is TAKE A BREAK already and get some rest!

In this, as in so many other ways, Matt and Jeff have a lot to teach me.  Both of them are able to sleep much more soundly and easily than I do, and not surprisingly, both of them generally get more sleep than I do.

When Matt had surgery on his arm recently, his Aunt Gloria gave him an adorable “snoring pig” (Matt LOVES pigs) and one recent afternoon while he was still wearing his arm brace, I caught him napping with his cute little toy.  Apparently the pig’s snoring was contagious!  Maybe I should try sitting down with it sometime.

If you’re feeling tired or out of sorts today or anytime soon, think about Le Guin’s formula.  Sometimes a bit of additional information might keep you from spinning your wheels and getting nowhere, but if all else fails, try a night (or an afternoon) of sound sleep!


  1. For me the Zzz doesn’t often follow information gathering; it’s more like the last line of “For Esme’ with Love and Squalor”.

    • Yes, that sentence is a comfort to me when Jeff is sleeping well!

  2. Susan

    Great advice for me, too! I am going to try to remember to stop spinning my wheels sooner.
    And what a precious photo, Julia!

    • Thank you Susan! That photo reminds me that our “kids” are always sweet when they’re asleep, no matter how old they grow.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, as I looked at the photo (and the peacefulness of the moment), I remembered those weeks when Jeff was in the hospital, then Matt broke his arm and YOU were maintaining. I can only say,”Thank you, Lord!” I so admire your strength. Something tells me that you don’t sit often, much less nap. Years ago, my daughters expressed concern that I was taking afternoon naps. I told them I considered them “princess naps” that I had earned. Last I heard of it…. Haha!

    • Hey, I like that! I might start that habit myself someday, but I have to be careful because I don’t do well at waking up, whether it’s morning or afternoon. The more I sleep, it seems, the more I want to sleep! Good thing life is so interesting, or I might just sleep most of it away! 🙂 Especially if I had daily access to a beach where I could soak up the sun and the sounds of the surf (with 30+ sunscreen and a hat, of course..)

      • Sheila

        I always laugh when I say that I’m the only lady in the grocery store that doesn’t smell of “Hawaiian Tropic”….more haha!

        • I love, love, love the way their original tanning oil smells. I still like to use it sometimes, but don’t tell the dermatology police!

  4. Love this picture of Matt. I will be praying you are all sleeping well. Love you. A

    • Thanks Amy! I’ll call you soon. Love to all of you.

  5. Ajaytao2010

    Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.

    • Thank you, Ajaytao! I had admired your photographs, but had not read the “about” page until I got this contact from you. For obvious reasons, it really resonated with me. It sounds as if you have experienced what my husband is now going through, wherein the remedy can sometimes seem (or actually be) worse than the disease. I found the quotes about cancer on your “about” page very inspiring. I thought of my husband and our friends who are currently going through similar fiery trials. I appreciate your comment here, and I wish you many blessings as you share with the world all you have learned and are learning. Again – thank you!

      • Ajaytao2010

        oh dear thank you very much for your valuable comments dear dont worry I have come out of it so will you husband. Have faith in yourself and just pray and my blessings are always with you. You can discuss anything about cancer with me anytime dear dont worry

        God bless you dear

        • Thank you so much!

          • Ajaytao2010

            Don’t worry dear, I stay in India and you need any help you can mail me anytime no problems.

            my email Id is ajaytao@gmail.com

            thank you dear


            • Thank you! We have friends in Chennai, India, and I very much hope Jeff and I are able to visit India one day. Some of my favorite blog readers are also in India.

              • Ajaytao2010

                Oh thank you so much dear

                now you have my mail
                anything you need please mail me dear

                thank you


  1. Rest now | Defeat Despair

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