The Pursuit of Leisure by Robin Trimingham
If you are a fully qualified Zen master, you will view the title of this week’s article with a mixture of humour and dismay.
That’s ok. This article is for the rest of us mere mortals; and particularly for those of us highly strung, smart phone touting, overly serious executive types.
And yet, “they” have most likely eyed the title, and thumbed rapidly onward in disgust. Leisure frequently has little value to those on a quest to conquer the corporate world, (unless it can be submitted for reimbursement as “continuing education” or passed off as a “client entertainment”).
That is somewhat of a shame in my opinion, for leisure is a primary function of any thriving person who has permanently left the work world.
But what exactly is leisure? Dr. Richard Johnson, the noted American psychologist and author of “What Color Is Your Retirement” defines leisure as “all that you like to do when you don’t have to do anything else”.
That would literally mean that either the executives don’t “like” to do anything fun; or that they do “like” to do lots of things, they just feel a need to pretend that checking their stocks, reading newspapers, scoring NFL tickets on Ticket Exchange, updating their Linked IN profile, and reading John Grisham novels are not fun pastimes – they are mind expanding activities.
Ok, I suppose they are sort of, but don’t ask me to believe that they don’t think that conducting international conference calls on the hands-free unit in their cars is cool.
But what happens when someone like this suddenly finds themselves retired, or downsized or spun out? Waking up without 40 emails to wade through before breakfast is a terrifying thought.
How will someone like this figure out how to fill the day, if they do not permit themselves to do anything leisurely?
Initially they start doing things that are familiar – and they do them A LOT. They sign up for marketwatch.com stock alerts; they read the entire Wall Street Journal; they watch an entire season on Netflix. This might even seem the ideal life for a while – sit in the den for nine hours a day doing only “mind expanding” things of your choosing and every once in a while someone even makes you a meal.
What could possibly be better?
How about trying something new?
It turns out that you can do too much of good thing. Spend too much time doing only safe familiar things and they no longer seem fun … they become your “job” (yikes).
But, according to Dr. Johnson, approach leisure as a new and unfamiliar world that needs to be explored and you just might find satisfying endeavours that can rejuvenate your mind and body AND enrich your spirit.
And are you ready for the best part? You can be as busy pursuing leisure as you like!
By Robin Trmingham