In my bimonthly series, Leisurely Thursdays, I introduce concepts about leisure. This post is about a dreaded, four-letter word: TIME.
As we begin to study recreation and leisure and as we examine the underpinnings of leisure and its history, we must identify what leisure is. One definition says that leisure is rest from work so that we can have respite and recuperation in order to return to work. Another defines leisure as a state of mind and is time for contemplation.
Leisure scholars state that leisure is commonly defined as free time; that is, time free from work and other obligations. This is leisure that is quantifiable and measurable. They suggest that “leisure time” is used as a substitute for “free time.” Now we have to define what is “free.” Is leisure freedom “from” something, freedom to “do something,” or a means to increase freedom?
Our time can be segmented into categories to best define leisure. A fellow blogger, Thoughts of a Woman in Sports, who also happens to be a windsurfer like me, writes about time.
For example, there are 168 hours in a week. Work, vocation, or school, which is obligated time bound by commitment and restraints, takes about 40 hours. Sleeping uses up 56 hours a week (if we’re lucky). That leaves 72 hours for leisure and personal care. Her blog post emphasizes that we should be able to find three hours a week for fitness.
Personal care refers to time devoted to the maintenance of an individual’s well-being (eating, grooming, bathing, etc.) while leisure can be characterized by activities performed during free time for enjoyment, also for our well-being.
Personal care refers to basic necessities of life that must be met even before one can experience work or leisure. The personal care aspect is very important in clearly defining leisure. Another leisure scholar says that leisure is also essential to one’s well-being, therefore time spent in personal care interferes and sometimes replaces our leisure time. This is where we must make our choices daily, although I personally view a spa day as leisure!
As we apply these various notions of time, think about how we view mechanical time. Our days are spent trying to “beat the clock,” and trying to add some leisure time to a 24-hour day, or a 168 hour week.
Lop off a few hours for driving to and from work, grocery shopping, cleaning and laundering, maintaining our yards, cooking, eating, (although some forms of cooking and eating have been valued as leisure pursuits), and we are left with a couple of hours of “free” time for leisure!
We now have to choose, using this “free” time to …travel? Read? Watch TV? Are the choices positive? Who determines our free time and the quality of that time? Do not forget that we have to drive the kids to their soccer game or walk our dogs. We have become so desperate to find leisure in our multi-tasking world, that many of these “personal care” activities have become our leisure.
Middle class Americans just spent their home budget on all of the above, so when there is the choice of watching TV or going to a movie (and probably spending $12 per person, plus popcorn), we default to watching TV. Do not tell the neighbors that we are sitting in front of the TV, lest they think we are lazy. Whew…what a battle just to get some quality leisure time!
Is time on your side? If you sit down and budget your time what will you come up with? If you find some “time” for leisure, what will you do with it?