|This treadmill does not represent an actual treadmill.|
It is a metaphor.
Does anyone use the word leisure any more? Has the word left our vocabulary?
I woke up this morning asking myself if the weekend were well spent, and mentally I ticked off a list of things accomplished and errands run. Did I spend any time just goofing off? Even when I was watching tv, I had a computer in my lap checking emails. I did take a nap, but that doesn't really count. If you spend the afternoon turning the garden with a shovel, napping isn't goofing off, it's just inevitable.
What has happened to the fine old American pastime of doing nothing whatsoever? On the Andy Griffith show they used to spend a lot of time sitting on the porch strumming guitars and saying hi to passing neighbors. Now if they filmed that same scene, all the neighbors would be power-walking while they searched for sushi recipes on their smartphones or listened to How to Make Money on Foreclosures podcasts on their ipods. I bet Barney would be one of those people who keeps a bluetooth in his ear.
I'm not complaining; I'm just pointing out that leisure, which used to be time off, has now turned into time on, just doing something else. Even my recreation is targeted to keep me in shape. It's just another task; the fact that I enjoy it isn't the point - if I didn't have that to do, I'd have to find something else to do instead.
We're in such horror of momentary boredom, we not only task, we multitask, even on - especially on - our time off. Again, I'm not complaining. No one made us live this way, we chose it. We must like it.
But this morning it occurs to me, that just maybe, if we forced ourselves to stop once in a while - got off our treadmill lives of ant-like busyness interspersed with periods of unconciousness - if we, for example, sat on lawn chairs and greeted the neighbors, and if the neighbors were too busy for greeting, watched the birds - that if we did that, ie nothing, we might perceive a distant voice speaking to us, speaking silently but earnestly, the way if you hold a conch shell to your ear you hear the sea, but only if you take out your earphone first. Sometimes I'm certain we'd hear the voice, and sometimes, I think the reason for our frantic activity is we don't want to hear the voice, and sometimes, sometimes on a quiet morning, in between keystrokes of my daily blog, I can almost hear the voice myself.
I wonder what it's saying.