Leisure

“Oh, I need time and a moment of leisure!” I heard myself say this sentence and connect the thought of leisure with earlier days (Am I really that old?). As if I’d had more leisure in the past. During the semester break we carefully renovated the apartment – today the thought of renovation is already exhausting for me. Read several books of an author in a row to get a feeling for her work. Working on a drawing into the night and completely forgetting space and time. The power of the moment lies in being immersed. Today I feel determined by fast timings, by todo lists, which determine the daily work routine but also extend far into the meaningful, work-free time to be spent.

In my most important collegial working group, we have for some time now been refusing to work on an even more effective approach and are looking instead at what makes working life effortless. It is only a slightly changed direction, but internally a clearly shifted value – which also means leisure, workfloor and leisure time are not to be distinguished.

On closer examination of ‘leisure’ I come across Prof. Dr. Stefan Schmidt, who describes leisure as a ‘pleasantly perceived expansion of the present’ and “as an inner readiness and inner consciousness to linger in the present, in order finally to find silence when the world offers silence’. I learn that in different regions of the brain the ability to pause (prefrontal cortex) and the opposite, the permanent distraction (Default Mode Network System) are stored. You can train both. When I train to pause, I create the space for creative expression. I also experience, conversely, that through photography I distance myself from agitation and distraction and feel leisure. “One thing at a time!”.

Leisure is a shy creature. It cannot be forced. I can provide a framework that favours her, but she volunteers. When I look at leisure, I am enthusiastic about the idea of freedom. Spending time without purpose, relaxed, serene. Be enough for myself, even if it’s not useful. Leaning into the present, physically feeling myself. Having an idea and not following it, feeling an impulse and not following it. I experience this as particularly precious when I am allowed to experience it together with others.

On my last trip to Greece, a friend’s suitcase was lost for a few hours. It broke out hectically, after engaged telephone calls and nasty tension, the suitcase was found and seized in the port of Aegina. Afterwards everyone involved threw their plans for the design of the next days overboard – without really talking about it – and we spent our time together on Méthana, an enchanting peninsula of the Peloponnese: strolling, photographing, swimming, playing Backgammon. We explored the place, ate well, had a lot of fun. Finally we took the ferry back to Aegina, took our suitcase and set off for Athens and home together. Together we expanded into the present.

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