My neighbour loves to work in her home. One day she announced to me that she performed a major cleaning, listing all the tasks involved. Speaking deliberately and concisely, it dawned on me that her sense of accomplishment at what she had done had little to do with "work" as we commonly understand it. Is this possible?
As a kid I formed a negative and positive distinction between the things that were enjoyable doing which I labelled as leisure and ones I didn't much like which I labelled as work. I loved building model aeroplanes. I'd run to the shelves in the hobby store — the places that held these brightly coloured boxes and held so nicely in my hand. I can't even remember if I paid for them myself or if my parents did, but someone thought they were good for me. I was caught up in model aeroplane building. When I got home, I remember the excitement of opening a box and removing the contents. Balsa wood of different size and shaped pieces fanned the fire of my imagination. I'd fold out the diagram. It was often three feet wide with a detailed drawing of the whole model structure that looked so much like the original. I learned a trick on how to assemble the objects by taking a sheet of wax paper and using straight pins to fasten the pieces while glueing them using a soft board. In this way, the glue would not stick to the surface of the paper. I don't know where the time went. All I could hear was someone yelling at me, "Time for bed Jimmy!"
Just like night and day chores were the night side of things. It could be shovelling snow off the driveway by hand. Though I was often the first out to a snow storm, I was destined to marry that shovel for the season. Nobody ever borrowed it, and it never got lost. Same thing applied to the hedge clippers and the lawn mower. I cut the hedge by hand usually once during the summer and trimmed the back and front lawns every week. If I let the grass grow too long, I'd have to work harder because we had a push style mower. It wasn't leisure time. The only difference was that it was a relief to get it done and out of the way. The one compensation for this kind of drudgery was that I would occasionally get paid for it. How many folks do you know who are working at their occupations like that?
The Free Dictionary defines "At leisure" as follows: in an unhurried way or at one's convenience, exclusive of eating and sleeping. The time that is spent away from business, work, domestic chores and education. I quote my former teacher who added more sense to "leisure".
Leisure is an interesting idea culturally. Our word "school" comes from a Greek word that means leisure. Also the expression "Liberal Arts" came from the idea that these were things that only people who had leisure, who were free to engage in them could do so, i.e., those who had the resources to hire other people (or had slaves) to provide the necessities of life which freed them up to study art/music/literature. Today our society, in spite of the inequalities of income that are argued about, there is still plenty of wealth around such that everyone (except maybe moms with small kids, or with sick and elderly parents, or both) can have some extra energy and time to worry about what to do to fill the day. I guess in a sense your writing that Newsletter is a kind of leisure activity for you.
Statistics Canada cites there is a prevalence of both men and women over 70 living alone. It is estimated that the number of 80+ individuals will be 2.6 times higher in 2036 compared to what it was in 2009. This figure is expected to rise to 3.3 million in 2036 and 5.5 million by 2061. Even today's baby boomers who now outnumber children under 14 have time on their hands. So who will initiate meaningful activities when they can't do it themselves any longer? In the years to come what kinds of things will seniors enjoy doing? For lack of imagination, I'm wondering about some useful video game. By the way, will there be sufficiently interested candidates from our tech-savvy Generation Y and Z who would engage in human relations studies and training to provide guidance and care to the frail and elderly? I am strong of the premise it will take more than money to attract these workers.
I remember when job seekers used to hear, "Do you want a career or a job?" This advertisement brought to our minds the attempts we use to distinguish between enjoyment of doing interesting tasks in the service of others and the utter boredom and mundanity of dull repetition. In my late teens I had an idea that I could be a public school teacher; however, it took me a while to realise this was totally out of my character. Later when I found a resource to help me connect my latent interests and aptitudes to related occupations, I began enjoying a "career" which was far from boring. Over the years, I've held on to new found challenges of doing things that stimulate me; and I continue to find this every day at my leisure and occupational activities.©
Photo: Port Dalhousie ON 2014