The Barbed Gift of Leisure – The Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Here is a thoughtful essay on the fact that the leisure we all desire is actually fraught with significant dangers and temptations. Mark Kingwell (the author) is obviously a scholar and his writing cuts across the standard short-attention-span variety of prose that flows in the gutters of the internet (translation: this is not an easy read).

In any case the article is thought provoking and profound. He concludes with something significant. What to do with our time when we don’t have to work to put food on the table? That question brings up the greatest question all: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here anyway?  He writes:

“More profoundly, though, is a point that returns us to the original vision of a populace altogether freed from work by robots. To use a good example of critical consciousness emerging from within the production cycles of the culture industry, consider the Axiom, the passenger spaceship that figures in the 2008 animated film WALL-E. Here, robot labor has proved so successful, and so nonthreatening, that the human masters have been freed to indulge in nonstop indulgence of their desires. As a result, they have over generations grown morbidly obese, addicted to soft drinks and video games, their bones liquefied in the ship’s microgravity conditions. They exist, but they cannot be said to live.

The gravest danger of offloading work is not a robot uprising but a human downgrading. Work hones skills, challenges cognition, and, at its best, serves noble ends. It also makes the experience of genuine idling, in contrast to frenzied leisure time, even more valuable. Here, with only our own ends and desires to contemplate—what shall we do with this free time?—we come face to face with life’s ultimate question. To ask what is worth doing when nobody is telling us what to do, to wonder about how to spend our time, is to ask why are we here in the first place. Like so many of the standard philosophical questions, these ones butt up, however playfully, against the threshold of mortality.”

And this thought about our social media addiction is the best line I have read in while:

We are no longer owners and workers, in short; we are, instead, voracious and mostly quite happy producers and consumers of images. Nowadays, the images are mostly of ourselves, circulated in an apparently endless frenzy of narcissistic exhibitionism and equally narcissistic voyeurism: my looking at your online images and personal details, consuming them, is somehow still about me.”

Source: The Barbed Gift of Leisure – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Why We Love Being Burned Out- It Is Easier

Why We love burnout

I was reading some old journal entries. This is a great practice that helps put our blessings and struggles in perspective over the long haul. Too often I exaggerate the severity of the average crisis and forget the many blessings. Anyway, I came across something that I wrote last year during a time of exhaustion. At that moment I was trying to unravel why I have such a hard time resting and so often tend towards busyness and burnout. Reading this old entry was helpful for me, and perhaps it will encourage you.
“Why do we like/love the burnout trail? Being busy makes us feel important or even superior.

This level of busyness [to the point of exhaustion and burnout] though hard in the long run is emotionally easier in the short run Than:

  • Defining priorities
  • Saying no to people and risking their disappointment
  • Facing the fear of missing out
  • Disciplining myself to follow through on decisions and priorities
  • Doing the hard work of thinking ahead about calendar issues
  • Investing in people and giving them feedback”

I was struck at how often frenetic busyness is the way I avoid the really challenging and important emotional work that needs to be done.  God help me to grow!

Prisoners To Our Own Appetites. Now THAT Is A Story

Jail cell

This is an amazing account from Mark Buchanan. It is a strange story that illustrates how we are often prisoners to our own appetites.

“Thomas Costain, in his book The Three Edwards, relates a historical episode from the fourteenth century. Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, fought bitterly. Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him alive, and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle.

“But it was no ordinary prison cell. The room was reasonably comfortable. And there was no lock on the door—not a bolt, not a padlock, not a crossbeam. Raynald was free to come or go at will. In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that he walk out of that room.

“Only Raynald couldn’t. The door was slightly narrower than a typical door. And Raynald was enormously fat. He was swaddled in it. He could not, with all his squeezing and heaving, get himself outside his cell. He might more easily have passed a camel through a needle.

“So in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he had only to do one thing: lose weight. That would have come easily to most prisoners, with their rations of bread and water.

“It did not come easy to Raynald. Edward had disguised a great cruelty as an act of generosity. Every day, Edward had Raynald served with the richest, sauciest foods, savory and sweet, and ample ale and wine to boot. Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and larger. He spent ten years trapped in an unlocked cell, freed only after Edward’s death. His health was so ruined, he died soon himself.”

Buchanan’s book “The Rest Of God” is delightful and full of great content and excellent writing. It explores something that is oddly missing from many discussions of the Sabbath, the issue of rest.

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 165-166). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Your Anxiety Is Ruining Your Furniture

old chair

A fascinating anecdote from Mark Buchanan about stress and anxiety:

“Anxiety and stress are our number one killers. I heard recently a story about Meyer Friedman, the psychologist who devised the Type A/ Type B personality profiles— where Type B is placid and limber, taking life as it comes, and Type A is two-fisted and bristling, taking life by the horns. Friedman’s initial insight that led to his personality theory came after a discussion with a chair upholsterer. The upholsterer said that most of his business came from replacing the upholstery on the chairs in cardiologists’ offices, the chairs wore first, and quickly, on the front edge. Apparently, heart patients are so impatient that, even while listening to their doctor’s life-threatening diagnosis or lifesaving prescription, they sit taut and restless, poised to flee, chafing at the delay. At the edge of their seats. The very reason their hearts are sick is written in that threadbare upholstery.”

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 109-110). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

How Great Leaders Avoid Burnout | Inc.com

Burnout

Add this to the long list of people talking about burnout and rest.

The article makes some good observations and important suggestions. #1 is great.  Having a group of trusted mentors that can tell you hard truths is GREAT advice.

But the second paragraph stood out to me, because it makes a naive recommendation. It goes like this, “If you want to avoid burnout, don’t measure success by money or power. Instead use a 3rd metric. Measure success by changing the world”  Ha.

Haha

Hahahahaha

“Fighting the good fight” can lead to burnout just as quickly as working for Wall street.

Anyone who has worked with churches or nonprofits knows that “fighting the good fight” can lead to burnout just as quickly as working for Wall street.  In fact, it might be even more devastating. When you work for a “cause” it is easy to believe that since you are working for something virtuous that you ought to be successful and appreciated.  And when you experience the opposite, that instead you are often opposed and criticized, you may find yourself suffering from burnout + disillusionment. I can provide a long list of these people for you right now, right off the top of my head.

Here is  the highlight from the article:

“One day in 2007, Arianna Huffington found herself lying on the floor of her home office in a pool of blood. After an MRI, a CAT scan, and an ECG, she learned there was no underlying problem–it was exhaustion which had caused her to faint, her head smashing the corner of her desk and cutting her eye.

“The incident prompted her to ask deeper questions about her life of 18-hour workdays, seven days a week. By the time she delivered a commencement speech at Smith College in 2013, she was preaching the gospel of a good night’s sleep and asking graduates to measure their lives by a “third metric”–changing the world for the better–in addition to those timeless standards, money and power. ” (emphasis mine)

Having a cause is important. But it is not enough. We need wisdom in how we serve the cause.

via How Great Leaders Avoid Burnout | Inc.com.

Monday Morning Haiku on Rest

haiku-logo

More amateur poetry offerings.  In the last year I have been writing more haiku. Today I am taking a day off and wrestling with the benefits and difficulties of rest when it is both needed and difficult. I am a workaholic and have been learning that rest is a form of both worship and repentance. It is a way to confess that I am not God,  and that it doesn’t all depend on me. It is also a way to express my trust that he will take care of “business” while I enjoy some time of restoration. Enjoy.

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