- Do you know what I fear right now? I fear the urban citizens of America have become largely producing and errand-running machines. As a result we don’t have time for things that really matter. The days of Thoreau at Walden, alone pondering and wondering and appreciating, or the passing observations of Walter Berry or Mary Oliver or Naomi Shahib Nye are gone or slipping away.
For instance, today is supposed to be an easy day. I’ll do a little bookkeeping, write a blog, and pack to leave at noon for a 5 hour drive to Arizona to watch my son’s baseball game by 7:00 PM tonight. Huh? That’s an easy day?
What ever became of the days of reading, writing leisurely, painting, and helping other people? It rarely fails that some meeting or task will always slip into my leisurely pace to take away its pleasure. And I’m supposed to be retired!
Comfort and Fun
Laura Riding writes about comfort and fun—a highly subversive thought in our Puritanical work-ethic vocabulary. She speaks of laziness as a virtue during which we should be seeking comfort and fun.
Honestly, I warm to the idea of comfort and fun rather than the anxiety-driven, multi-tasking obsession we have allowed to seep into our lives. This idea of “meaningful laziness,” or not hurrying and not being so consumed with producing but rather participating in your life as it comes is enticing. Although think I would add service to the comfort and fun, but that ‘s all I would add.
Riding writes, “The wrong kind of doing is the doing that people do not do for comfort or fun, but instead do it to prove to themselves or other people that they are people.” Ooh. I never thought of it that way. But it’s true. It’s our social objective, isn’t it?—stay busy and prove your value.
In the Early, Early Days
How did this “work ethic” ever come to be? It certainly didn’t exist in the beginning of humanity. The hunter–gathers worked only 4-6 hours per day. The agricultural revolution altered that to working near sun up to sun down. And the industrial revolution has increased that workload with the advent of electricity to allow us to work all night.
Have we evolved or devolved?
Progress always has trade-offs. But you know what? WE HAVE CHOICES!!
Here are some ideas, some from others and some from me:
- One day per week with no electronics—phone or computer or TV.
- Select one thing that is fun and do it.
- I used to draw and looked forward to it constantly. But for some reason I quit drawing.
Truthfully, today I’m not sure what comfort and fun would even look like.
Have you ever had days like this?
What does that tell me? It tells me that it is time for a major Paradigm Shift amongst many of us, especially as we grow older?
Comfort and Fun
Is Not UnAmerican
Photo courtesy of AleksandarNakic at istockphoto