Ah, to have a beautiful sunny day and no plans to fill it with! To read a good book, bask in the sunshine, feel a sea breeze across your face, and play with your dogs. To take a nap in mid-afternoon with only the sound of a distant lawnmower to lull you to sleep. Bliss.
How lucky are we to live in the first era in which free time is not only abundant for many of us, but is generally considered a basic right? The pursuit of happiness writ large. Gone for me and mine are the days when one would spend hours simply fetching water, and then more hours using it to cook, clean, and wash clothes.
Gone is the constant anxiety of praying for rain to sustain your crops (although we still should) or praying that the snow will hold off a few weeks more. How heavenly to live in a time when hammocks are used in ways other than to warehouse weary sailors after a hard day’s toil, and pizza can come right to the door!
No pressure on me to marry and produce children and have inevitable miscarriages and preserve my family’s reputation. No growing worry about surviving the cold of winter or the plagues and pestilence of everyday living. I fear neither polio nor pogroms nor the possibility of not living past the age of 35.
How lucky are most of us?
But many a marriage stayed intact when one could go off and chop a cord of wood to stave off the cold or churn butter for the family table rather than bicker about who left their dirty socks in the coffee mug. So much easier to be faithful when you spend the day plowing the field. How many pounds of fat did not strain the heart through the fitness that is borne of hard work? Was it easier to stave off depression when you were focused on mere survival?
I suspect I’d derive a great deal of satisfaction from looking out on the results of a hard day’s work. I believe I’d appreciate leisure time a lot more if it were hard won. I think I would benefit a great deal more from spending less time gazing at my own navel and more time engaging in the wider world.
How lucky are most of us? Hard to say. I’ll think about it more as I lie in my hammock.
[Image credit: Digitaldutch.com]