How Pieper Encouraged Me to “Calm Down”

What exactly do I mean about perspective? It is the step you have to take before making any wise decision if you want to transcend. But what about before perspective? What is the critical activity to achieve it?  

Think about eternity, the place you go after death, and how you imagine it. I would think it is a place where you are in a constant feast, but at the same time in continuous leisure. Yes, “leisure” is what we ought to understand first. Reflecting upon “Culture: the Basis of Leisure” by Joseph Pieper, it had me astonished to contemplate on an activity that I do not even consider as a priority. Leisure was regarded as an activity in itself. Oftentimes we only think and live to work rather than ̈think that because we work, we are entitled to leisure. So, we need leisure to have perspective and understand what we are all called for: transcendence. 

As a personal note, leisure has not been a priority in my life. In fact, I thought the more one escapes it, the better. I think it is easy to relate to situations where you are just sitting down, contemplating or reading a book and then thoughts pop-up into your mind about how unproductive you are when you have a thousand of mails to go through. I found myself stuck in this ugly relationship with leisure until there came a phase of confusion where I decided to take a break: a true one that actually forced me to reach it as an activity in itself. It was from that moment that I weigh things through another light of perspective. 

Leisure engages the questions of our being: Where did I come from? Who am I? One of its characteristics, in fact, includes being in conversations that challenge us and lead to the good, the true, and the beautiful. Authentic leisure is the capacity of the soul to receive the reality of the world. A transcendent dimension that helps us participate in a reality beyond oneself, in such a way that the self is aware of its dignity. 

Notice how, whenever there is turbulence in an airplane, it has to fly higher to gain stability and clarity above all the clouds or wind that may be causing it? 

Leisure, at the basis of perspective, is to transcend. Some points that Pieper highlights:

1. Stillness/silence/solitude:  It is an ability to let go. To be aware of the here and now, to not be afraid of confronting yourself in a conversation when in solitude. 

2. Celebration/feast: An affirmation that the world is good and that some things are worth celebrating. We know that we are heading to an eternal feast. Leisure at its center is also a communal act; it must not be reduced simply as an individual and private one. 

3. Non- instrumental: One must approach leisure as meaningful in and by itself. 

 

It is not easy to engage in leisure these days since most people and young adults especially are committing to so many things at the same time. Nevertheless, I ́ve done some things recently that have helped in an enormous way. 

  1. Be realistic. Of course, deleting social media seems to be a totally unrealistic method  of limiting yourself from using it. Instead, what I do is setting a small objective day by day and working my way up. For example, each morning I would wake up and immediately check Instagram. Now I have set myself not to check it until noon. It works wonders!
  2. Try to live in the moment.  I know it sounds cliché, but it is true. Same thing: Start small. For example, when you eat, try not to watch TV or browse on your cell phone and truly enjoy your meal. Then move on to your next activity. It is something I struggle with but I try to do it at least one meal a day and work my way up. It’s the same thing as when you are having a meal with friends. Leisure is supposed to be also a celebration so it is horrible to be at a dinner and to be someone who is doing something else. 
  3. Make time for friends. It is difficult to see people at times, and you can even be tired and just want to be by yourself on the weekends. But I think the beauty of making time for others is that they are often your windows to transcend. 

At the end of it all, we must be able to understand that it is okay to have leisure. It is necessary not only for our well-being, but for the soul. It is a way of confronting things along the way to gain perspective upon our daily decisions. At times, one decision may seem bigger than others, but it all sums up. We are all destined for an endless day of celebration and transcendence. 

“The end of labor is to gain leisure.” – Aristotle

Published: October 8, 2019
Written by Andrea Gutierrez, a New York Headquarters intern from Mexico

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