By Danielle Oristian York
Labor Day has come and gone, Facebook has been filled with back to school pictures for at least two weeks and based on the number of calls and emails, today it seems that business is back to usual after closing for the last week of August. Closing the office for the last week of August at 21/64 is in part tradition and in part to create a place for reflection and regeneration before the fall season is upon us.
This year I tried to do just that as I set my out of office reply and packed my family into the car for a trip to the beach. We drove (and drove and drove and it was not the bucolic road trip Sharna described taking this spring) and when we arrived, we played and relaxed ate and even read for pleasure. In my reading I came across a few great pieces that I wanted to share with you on the topic of leisure.
Now let me be clear…leisure is not a skill of mine. When I sort the Motivational Values cards – the Pleasure value card is disappointingly near the bottom of my deck! But as I read or listened to each of these pieces while taking a break they struck a cord. I hope you enjoy them as well.
From one of my favorite places to learn and be inspired: Brain Pickings A free weekly interestingness digest from Sunday August 20, 2015
“… we have come to see the very notion of “leisure” not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy. And yet the most significant human achievements between Aristotle’s time and our own — our greatest art, the most enduring ideas of philosophy, the spark for every technological breakthrough — originated in leisure, in moments of unburdened contemplation, of absolute presence with the universe within one’s own mind and absolute attentiveness to life without, be it Galileo inventing modern timekeeping after watching a pendulum swing in a cathedral or Oliver Sacks illuminating music’s incredible effects on the mind while hiking in a Norwegian fjord.”
“Leisure stands opposed to the exclusiveness of the paradigm of work as social function. The simple “break” from work — the kind that lasts an hour, or the kind that lasts a week or longer — is part and parcel of daily working life. It is something that has been built into the whole working process, a part of the schedule. The “break” is there for the sake of work. It is supposed to provide “new strength” for “new work,” as the word “refreshment” indicates: one is refreshed for work through being refreshed from work.
“Leisure stands in a perpendicular position with respect to the working process… Leisure is not there for the sake of work, no matter how much new strength the one who resumes working may gain from it; leisure in our sense is not justified by providing bodily renewal or even mental refreshment to lend new vigor to further work… Nobody who wants leisure merely for the sake of “refreshment” will experience its authentic fruit, the deep refreshment that comes from a deep sleep.”
From my favorite podcast: On Being with Krista Trippett from August 20, 2015 CREATIVITY AND THE EVERYDAY BRAIN- Conversation with Dr. Rex Jung
…there’s the knowledge acquisition portion and then there’s the place where you have to let the ideas flow. If you’re always in knowledge acquisition mode, which is important, you have to put ideas in your head in order to put them together in novel and useful ways. But if you’re constantly in knowledge acquisition mode, there’s not that quiet time to put it together.“
“You hear lots of stories of, you know, in history from Archimedes’ bath, where he discovered density by immersing himself in a bath and looking at displacement, he figured out he could measure how much gold is in a crown or something like that and cried, “Eureka!” But this warm bath or the long walk of Beethoven or Kekulé awakening from a dream and imagining a snake swallowing its own tail and thinking of a benzene ring. All of these have in common this hypofrontal state, whether it’s induced by a warm bath, walk, meditation, exercise, yoga.”
“There is downtime where your brain is not engaged in ongoing cognitive activity. Even exercise is a way to do that where, you know, you’re just working your body, but you’re not working your cognitive resources, and it induces this work space for you to meander around and put ideas together. And everyone knows the trick that works for them, the shower in the place or the yoga class or some people drink [laughs]. It’s a lot of ways to get there, but a lot of people know — creative people, in particular — know what trick works for them to get away. And for your children, to get back to your question, that’s an important space to cultivate, that recess from knowledge acquisition. You have to have the raw materials in place to put together, but you also have to have the time to put them together.”
And one last one from the New York Times from August 27, 2015 to inspire your time away at leisure. The Art of the Out of Office Reply