Musing my way through the alphabet, today brings us to the letter L, where I’m contemplating leisure.
Well, more accurately, leisure has me thinking about time. Clearly one of my favorite leisure activities is falling down rabbit holes, and I appear to have fallen down one.
Let’s begin at the slippery slope wherein I encountered this little bit in yesterday’s issue of Brain Pickings. James Gleick, author of Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, says this:
“We have a word for free time: leisure. Leisure is time off the books, off the job, off the clock. If we save time, we commonly believe we are saving it for our leisure. We know that leisure is really a state of mind, but no dictionary can define it without reference to passing time. It is unrestricted time, unemployed time, unoccupied time. Or is it? Unoccupied time is vanishing. The leisure industries (an oxymoron maybe, but no contradiction) fill time, as groundwater fills a sinkhole. The very variety of experience attacks our leisure as it attempts to satiate us. We work for our amusement.”
I smiled at that. Not because I don’t agree, but rather I had just been thinking about how behind in reading I’ve been all this year. I have quite a stack of books piled up, including an entire section on time which utterly fascinates me on all kinds of levels. Gleick’s book is among the pile.
But I am committed to making my way through, and recently began Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe by Lee Smolin. It’s not entirely scintillating reading, but Smolin’s premise is that a limited notion of time is holding back the field of physics. I’m not willing to argue at that level, but it IS my belief that there is more to be understood about time than we currently grasp. And in the meantime, I think we can do a better job of dancing with it.
To that effect, one of my favorite books about time is Waverly Fitzgerald’s Slow Time: Recovering the Natural Rhythm of Life. I’ve always found Waverly’s work to be thoughtful and thought-provoking and she’s an expert at observing and working within seasonal frameworks. This book explores various rhythms in time, and peeks at various cultures and various time periods as well.
I have long decided working with rhythmic cycles – particularly lunar and seasonal – is optimal for me, and have dedicated my life to this pattern. But of course, that’s not the primary rhythm of our society or world in general, and so sometimes it’s really helpful (and comforting) to return for a dose of encouragement from one who does honor this way as well. So Slow Time is a well-thumbed friend I’ve re-read many times.
I’m blessed in many ways, but one I’m especially grateful for is the fact that I’m an entrepreneur and thus in charge of my own schedule. We’re all given the same 24 hours a day, but I can tweak how I spend mine endlessly. It’s especially helpful to be able to maximize peak creative times and honor those natural times when my energy dips.
As much as I’m interested in the more mundane aspects of time, I’m also interested in the more metaphysical considerations as well. I’ve been musing about this admonishment from Hafiz:
“This is the time
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
But not all wisdom comes from the poet/philosphers. I’ve often found it inside fortune cookies. The eating of which I often do in my leisure time.
What about you? Is time your abundant ally? Have a pile of books you’ve yet to get through? Love fortune cookies? What “L” is delighting you today? Do tell – you know I love to hear.