Being Busy When Everyday is a Leisure Day: What Leisure Means in Contemporary Society

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  Leisure is usually defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is the time spent away from business, work, job hunting, domestic chores, and education, as well as necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. This so-called “free time” is perhaps all we have right now. But Situationist International proposes that leisure does not evolve from free time, and free-time is an illusory concept that is rarely fully “free”. Economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as “leisure”. Businesses like gyms and clubs convince us that these are places existing for our enjoyment as if they aren’t capitalizing off of our involvement and membership. Going to places like Disneyland becomes ruined because this is a corporation that only cares about the money it makes and  not the actual human experiences that it creates. Certainly most people’s leisure activities are not a completely free choice and may be constrained by social pressures. For example, some people, like my grandma, may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens or some, like myself, go to a party because of social pressures. Leisure as an experience usually emphasizes dimensions of perceived freedom and choice. It is done for “its own sake”, for the quality of experience and involvement. Clearly, this is not the case. 

To achieve this definition, leisure activity must be done for the individual only. One example of this would be doing activities only for the purpose of engaging one’s creative side. Research has shown that practicing creative leisure activities is interrelated with the emotional creativity. This will, in turn, increase emotional well-being. Recreation differs from leisure in that it is a purposeful activity that includes the experience of leisure in activity contexts. Perhaps recreation is what we need to aim for instead. Still, economists consider that leisure times are valuable to a person like wages that they could earn for the same time spent towards the activity. If it were not, people would just work instead of taking leisure. Whatever the real purpose behind people engaging in leisure activities is, and whatever actually counts, it is clear that right now, “free time” is all we have. Personally, I believe it is a time to be grateful for, see the good in, and do our best with. So, let me help you find things to fill your time with.

You’re already avoiding doing homework. Yes, I see you dodging your teachers emails, lying to your parents about having all your schoolwork done whilst pretending like you’ve never heard of the term ‘Google Classroom’. That’s okay. The world is upside down and getting a little behind is okay. I feel the effects of the social distancing a little less, I still get to go to work (yes I’m an essential worker, you’re so welcome), and interact with people. And we’re lucky here because while we aren’t isolated from it we are much safer than any other area. Nonetheless, life is good. Life can be good regardless of how hard it is to not laugh with and hug your friends. Here are some tips to discover yourself. 

Get into something new you’ve always been curious about. Everyone has that one thing they’ve always wanted to know about. I’ll list a few hobbies I’ve started. For me, the emotional creativity was sparked when I started reading comics again. Not only is it comforting because it is a simple activity that only involves myself and no other ulterior motives, disconnected from any social pressures, but is beneficial to my frontal cortex, where all the creativity is held. Since I am usually against reading books, this is perfect for me. Then, the free time started to feel truly free when I picked up on rollerblading. There is nothing more freeing than gliding, feeling the wind in your face, music blasting in your ears. The more I skate, the faster I get. This is my activity that is truly free from everything else. For relaxation, I sew. It’s not perfect but it’s calming to sit down and do something that takes time and patience. 

So, my advice is to find activities that accomplish these areas in your personal quarantine journey. It’s important to remember that these activities, while they help keep you busy, are not meant to forbid any feelings of loneliness. Allow yourself to feel lonely. This is okay. But don’t feel alone. And most of all, don’t let it stop you from getting the most out of this period of time. Enjoy your own company while you look forward to summer and seeing people on an everyday basis again. Learn being okay on your own. Discover what leisure and free time means to you. Meanwhile, I’ll be skating on the sidewalks of Missoula, feeling free.

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