Good Leisure

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I wish I had a statistic for the number of times I have asked the question, “How is your summer?” and received as a response: “Busy.” These responses vary in emotion – some admit this with a resigned sigh, or a stoic laugh, or a mildly uncomfortable realization of how burned out they are. For many of us, summer, a hopeful beacon in gloomier months, has revealed itself to be another to-do list trap.

There is another end of the spectrum: those who confess that they are bored with summer. Each day stretches ahead of them as an expanse of time to be filled by sleep, household chores, hanging out with friends, and...Netflix?

Whether you are bored or busy, we all need help enjoying this last month of summer. There are so many worthwhile goals, so many exciting plans we made at the beginning of the summer – and would I be right in guessing that most of them have been neglected? I resolved to get better at playing the harp this summer; I bought new music, arranged a space for it in my room, stuck to it for a few weeks…and then the June slump and the July busyness washed over all my good intentions. And that’s pretty disappointing when all that took its place was more time wasted on my phone and watching TV.

The truth is, we need leisure. Good leisure. That’s why we work hard – so at the end of the day we have time to be a human being with passions and desires, with a mind, soul, and body. Leisure is not laziness: not vegging on the couch, not even more sleep. Leisure is more than just taking care of your basic needs. It is feeding yourself with what is beautiful and worthwhile – prayer, nature, friendship, good music, good movies, good books, good conversation. Leisure is active. You have to choose to do something better with your time.

This culture of productivity, achievement, and efficiency has no time for leisure. This culture of entitlement, complacency, and comfort doesn’t want you to put forth the effort. But you need it, because you were created for deep friendships, beautiful ideas, and most of all, a life with the Lord. He has given you a world full of inspiration and passion. Don’t miss out, whether it’s because you choose to do a lot of other things or you choose to do nothing.

This last month of summer is your chance to use your time wisely. Trust me, I need to take my own advice and stop watching random YouTube videos. But as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to make a new to-do list of ways I can experience some true leisure in my life. And then I’m going to go play my harp.