Leisure/Work / by Melanie Ida Chopko

Big conversations Friday on work, art making, money making with my poet friend Silvi Alcivar of The Poetry Store (1). More on that soon, but to tie those thoughts together is my recent find on BrainPickings (2), a luminous quote by one of my heroes, the beloved Brother David Steindl-Rast.

Leisure … is not the privilege of those who can afford to take time; it is the virtue of those who give to everything they do the time it deserves to take. He goes on:

Whenever you work, you work for some purpose. If it weren’t for that purpose, you’d have better things to do than work. Work and purpose are so closely connected that your work comes to an end, once your purpose is achieved. Or how are you going to continue fixing your car once it is fixed?…

In play, all the emphasis falls on the meaning of your activity… Play needs no purpose. That is why play can go on and on as long as players find it meaningful. After all, we do not dance in order to get somewhere. We dance around and around. A piece of music doesn’t come to an end when its purpose is accomplished. It has no purpose, strictly speaking. It is the playful unfolding of meaning that is there in each of its movements, in every theme, every passage: a celebration of meaning. Pachelbel’s Canon is one of the magnificent superfluities of life. Every time I listen to it, I realize anew that some of the most superfluous things are the most important for us because they give meaning to our human lives.

(1)  Silvi and The Poetry Store
(2) Steindl-Rast on Leisure and Gratefulness