We are living in an age of hurry, haste, tension, speed and frantic competition. We hurl ourselves through life at a breathless pace, trying to keep up with the people who are trying to keep up with the Joneses. Is it worth it? Young professionals in their mad pursuit of material success have forgotten how to relax without being lax, how to be intense without becoming tense. Many people know how to excel in work; many others know how to excel in play, but very few persons know to induce playfulness into work, and some fruitful work into leisure.
This is why a break from our daily routine of activities is necessary in our lives. At least once a while it is required to drop all calculations, jettison all blue prints for self-improvement and simply be yourself.
A distinguished explorer, who spent a couple of years among the natives of the upper Amazon, once attempted a forced march through the jungle. The party made extraordinary speed for the first two days, but on the third morning, he found all the natives sitting around, looking very solemn and making no preparation to leave. “They are waiting,” the chief of the natives explained, “they cannot move further until their souls have caught up with their bodies.”
I can think of no better illustration of our own plight today. Is there no way of letting our souls, so to say, catch up with our bodies? Man does not live by work alone. There is such a thing as a sacred leisure, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected. Leisure is the womb of all fruitful creativity. Aristotle said, “The aim of education is the wise use of leisure.” A creative and positive use of leisure is a real test of culture, refinement and civilization. Only in an environment of affluence and leisure floats the intangible dust of creative ideas, the raw material for fashioning fine literary and artistic creations. A colony of busy ants or bees will never create a Parthenon or a Taj Mahal.
The art of relaxing
Periods of wholesome laziness after days of energetic effort, wonderfully tone up the mind and the body. It does not involve loss of time, since after a day of complete rest and quietness you will return to your regular occupation with renewed interest and vigour.
When there is no time for quiet, there is no time for the soul to grow. The man who walks through the countryside sees much more than the man who runs. We begin to develop truer appreciation of essentials; the landscape ceases to be a blur and becomes a countryside with detail, colour, dimension and depth. For those who practise periodic relaxation, every day becomes a Sunday.
The creative power of recreation
Recreation is a built-in tranquilizer. Use it frequently and creatively in your daily life. Recreation means enjoying certain periods of playfulness and fun. It can bring a sense of fulfilment, joy, health, education and an enrichment of life. It can also create a salubrious climate of friendship and conviviality.
The true purpose of recreation should be not merely to amuse or entertain but to enhance our fitness, increase our usefulness, spur achievement. Any form of recreation that damages either our physical or mental efficiency does not recreate. America used to be owned by the Indian who hunted and fished so much that he didn’t have time to work and worry. Then it was taken over by the white man who works and worries so much that he doesn’t have time to hunt and fish.
Prof Dr. John Mathews is a professor of English Literature and Philosophy. A motivational speaker and columnist, he is the author of The Wisdom & Power of Positive Living and An Encyclopaedic Treasury Of Positive Thoughts For Effective And Creative Living.