The spiritual children of Antisthenes

couple walking beside ruin of gascon hall, perthshire: Image taken from page 148 of 'Life and Songs of the Baroness Nairne; with a memoir and poems of Caroline Oliphant the younger. Edited by ... C. Rogers ... With a portrait and other illustrations'
image credit: the British Library on flickr

One of my favorite blogs, Brain Pickings, recently posted a brief meditation on leisure, based on Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture [public library]. Pieper argues that leisure — which is more than simply “a vacation” — is an active pursuit that allows us the chance to reclaim our humanity.

“Leisure is not justified in making the functionary as “trouble-free” in operation as possible, with minimum “downtime,” but rather in keeping the functionary human … and this means that the human being does not disappear into the parceled-out world of his limited work-a-day function, but instead remains capable of taking in the world as a whole, and thereby to realize himself as a being who is oriented toward the whole of existence.”

I’ve been actively working to incorporate more leisure into my daily life. I wake up at 4:45 each morning to walk the dog and make breakfast before the rest of my family rises. This allows me almost two hours of solitude during which I only allow myself to read and write. In the evening after Ms. 2 goes to sleep, I spend half an hour reflecting upon my day and about an hour reading non-professional literature before bed.

I’ve managed to maintain this habit all throughout the summer. I can attest that I am more rested, clearer of mind, healthier, and less stressed than usual. For the first time in many years I am beginning to see myself as more than my job. While most of my identity is deeply rooted in being a librarian (and I don’t begrudge that), long-forgotten aspects of myself are beginning to rise to the surface again.

We’ll see if it holds once the Fall semester starts. September through October is the busiest time of the year for me as an instruction librarian and the time when I’m most likely to bring work home. However, after three years, I know I’ve got this so perhaps I can afford the opportunity to be kinder to myself.