the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

On Leisure

Another chapter of Digital Minimalism which gave me food for thought was the one on reclaiming leisure. The gist of this chapter is "ok, you're not spending all night on Netflix or Twitter, now what?" Unsurprisingly, Newport favours and pushes pretty hard on physical hobbies and activities (especially doing/making/fixing things) as a form of what he calls high-quality leisure. This got me thinking about my physical hobbies of the past - drawing, guitar, etc etc etc, all of which lost out as I became an adult with a PC, and pretty much died completely when I got online in the 90s.

On the other hand, I hate DIY with a passion, and had a hard time squaring that with the book saying "fix stuff, you'll feel better for it." I wasn't sure whether I'd become a full convert but armed with my 'attitude matters' mantra, it was enough for me to consider re-evaluating my views, or at least be more open-minded about it.

I wouldn't say that I succeeded much. The problem is, a lot of this stuff I see as work, not leisure. To me, working on a pet programming project, is leisure. Studying something interesting, is leisure. Playing Minecraft or Snakes and Ladders with my sons, is leisure. Writing a blog post is leisure. Fixing a broken curtain rail, is not leisure.

But maybe it is? What is leisure? Is it "doing things I think are fun?" The OED says "use of free time for enjoyment" - I like that definition the most. No amount of positive attitude is going to turn curtain rail fixing into "enjoyment" for me. Maybe a better definition would be "things which make me feel rested and less stressed," which might allow for a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment, having repaired said curtain rail.

This is probably closer to what the book is aiming at. A lot of emphasis is given to the idea of high quality leisure, of which making or fixing things, of crafting and handiness being rewarding and satisfying, is only one aspect. The bigger idea is that that you get a lot more from your leisure time if you're exerting or pushing yourself in some way. Favour demanding activity over passive consumption is one of the lessons from the chapter. This sounds counterintuitive, but doing nothing is overrated, is how I think the book puts it.

No arguments from me on the passive consumption front; I'm hardly a couch potato. The two problems remain: first, the demanding things I enjoy doing most tend to involve a computer screen, and second, curtain rail repairs aren't fun. I haven't done a great deal on the screenless leisure front, but I did try to think of ways to be more 'analog,' and I'll write about one thing I did in particular, separately.

{2019.11.17 22:01}

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