The idea of leisure is almost un-American, in its disregard for achievement, efficiency, and time-management. Do you deep down suspect that to enjoy leisure is to be lazy? Laziness has no part in leisure as Amy Lowell knows it to be, which is as a Presence to be cherished for its “teeming vigor.” To abandon oneself to “unmeasured time,” and the silences and delights of Now, is to make ready to receive gifts that God can’t give us when we are scurrying to and fro.
Before cell phones, which tempt us to flit about from a text message to a game to an Instagram photo, those in less-developed countries might at least have enjoyed leisure, as Richard Swenson wrote about in his book Margin. They are often poor, and have short life spans, but he found that they were happier than we who are continually in the red as regards time, if not money. The number of people in the world without cell phones has surely shrunken drastically since he wrote.
Leisure: the Basis of Culture is a title and a truth (by Josef Pieper).
Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.