In Search of Leisure
“In a word pleasure… my pleasure in other people’s leisure.” -Spud
When I hear people say they don’t know what they would do with themselves if they didn’t have to work, I marvel. I would not have this problem. I’m in a constant state of pursuing leisure. I have like a hundred thousand ideas for things I’d like to do.
This week, I had several revelations in my ongoing quest.
My husband got nearly as many board games for Christmas as our children. I’m all for it, now that we’ve rediscovered the fun of playing games. Pandemic Legacy was one of the games on his list and it was by far the best adult game he got.
The children kept complaining we were making too much noise as they were trying to sleep. But how could we be quiet when there was a severe outbreak in Jakarta… Chennai, India completely collapsed and Moscow was at panic level 2 (rioting). I grant you, it’s kind of dark. But it’s really, really fun.
The game is designed to be played once a month for twelve months. Irrevocable stickers are placed on the board. Cards are torn up. Torn up! We haven’t even yet gotten to open any of the advent-calendar-like secret dossiers.
Am I confusing you?
There is a bit of a learning curve. My husband sat at the table doing his homework for an hour before game-time. But it was worth it. The game is for four players. Any more and it would go on too long. But I realized after playing that, since it is a cooperative game, where everyone is discussing what each player should do, you could easily have teams that include more than one person, and it would be just as fun for any number of additional players.
We, unfortunately, lost the game. It didn’t help that I did not look at the secret power on my identity card until half way through (a bottle of wine). But we are so going to contain these outbreaks next month. Do not fear, citizens of Earth.
Also in leisure news, I stumbled upon the subscription reading service Scribd, which turns out to be a treasure trove of sheet music. I was searching for sheet music for the Amelie movie soundtrack and only here could I find what I wanted without buying the whole $36 book, which had more songs than I needed. I signed up for the free trial, figuring I would cancel it after I downloaded all the music I wanted. But I really love being able to find almost any sheet music I want at any moment. (Though not everything.)
Scribd changed its user agreement this year from unlimited reading for $9.99 a month, to only 3 books per month, plus certain additional rotating titles. I can’t imagine reading more than three books in a month, so this seems like a good deal. Most kindle books are more than $10. Reading more books is a priority for me since books are my cure for the internet.
But I was a instantly deflated when the first book I wanted to read – The Case Against Sugar – was only available on audio book. So we’ll see. But the sheet music seems to be unlimited, so I’m definitely going to give it a whirl. Playing the piano instead of reading the internet has been a huge win for leisure at my house.
Yet More Blinding Wisdom from Raptitude
All these pursuits of leisure bring me to Raptitude. I promise not to talk about Raptitude every week, but once again, David’s words are so pertinent and so insightful, they reached out from inside my computer screen and slapped me in the face. Lovingly. His latest essay captures the perpetual conundrum that many of us find ourselves in: we just don’t have enough time to do all the things we want to do.
And so he asks, is it possible that we do not have enough time for all our leisure fantasies because we are in a deluded state of thinking that we can be writers, gamers, musicians, iron men, book nerds, photographers, film buffs, yoga gurus, amateur astronomers and bilingual chefs, all at the same time?
Because unless you are born with the singularly focused mind of a prima ballerina or master mathematician or whatever, you may find that you have many interests, as various hobbies and leisure activities tantalizingly pass in front of you like hors d’oeuvres on a tray. Sure, I’ll take this, and yes, I’ll take that, and who wouldn’t want to learn all about birds or meditation or how to play the ukulele? Particularly when you live in a busy metropolis, there are tempting things to do just around the corner at all times. Kickboxing? Absolutely! Learning Italian? Sign me up! Search Party? Netflix it!
Yes, these are fulfilling, or at least fun, things. But here’s the catch – we cannot do all of them. We have to choose.
The tyranny of choice.
Sometimes I could crumble at the mere prospect of making one more decision, however small. Tomato or bacon on my egg sandwich? Chicken or lentil soup for dinner? Writing or working out this morning? Coding or cooking for my son after school? Blue walls or green? Skiing or Florida? It can drive a person mad. But if we do not choose, if we do a little of everything and say yes too often, our brains are destined to short-circuit into a tail-chasing spiral of self-defeat where we constantly bemoan that we do not have enough time. And this doesn’t even take into account time wasted – a whole other topic.
But there is a short-cut to this considerable task of constant qualifying, prioritizing and choice-making, especially when it comes to stuff that is supposed to be leisurely and fun…
Choose neither. I often choose nothing by default because I am paralyzed by too many choices. But that is a choice. And often, it is the best choice. Here’s a safe bet: you’ll never be disappointed if you go for quality over quantity. And if something is really going to give you pleasure, it will choose you.
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