Surgical Leisure

Strange the ways life can give you a break.

Take pain. I recently had minor surgery—though I’ve been told there are no “minor” surgeries, and while initially skeptical of this comment, my point of view has decidedly shifted. Pain provides its own perspective. I’ve never been so happy to be confined to my bedroom. Never have I relished the thought of staying in bed the whole day through. I read, I doze. I drink. I pee. It’s all pretty simple, and I’m loving it.

I just spent a good forty-five minutes perusing documentaries for addition to my Netflix queue. The treasures that await me! Sweetgrass—the story of a family of Montana sheepherders. Into Great Silence: a study of the Grande Chartreuse monastery. Janisof Joplin fame. Araya—the story of three families dependent on the Venezuelan salt trade. Helvetica—yep, it’s a documentary about a font. How great is that? And here’s one for Jonah: To the Limittwo German speed rock climbers race to the top of Yosemite’s El Capitan. And let us not forget Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World. 

Of course it will take me months to make my way through this (partial) list, but it’s the possibility of the thing that opens me up. Not doing can have an expansive effect (or is it the Vicodin?). Leisure. The word is almost foreign to me, but I’m slowly reintroducing it to my psyche. The German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper has a good deal to say about work and leisure. I especially need to consider this thought about work:

The world of work begins to become—threatens to become—our only world, to the exclusion of all else. The demands of the working world grow ever more total, grasping ever more completely the whole of human existence.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Like most writers, Pieper really has one thing to say, which he says in a dozen different ways. Here he talks about leisure in his book Happiness and Contemplation:

Repose, leisure, peace, belong among the elements of happiness. If we have not escaped from harried rush, from mad pursuit, from unrest, from the necessity of care, we are not happy. And what of contemplation? Its very premise is freedom from the fetters of workaday busyness. Moreover, it itself actualizes this freedom by virtue of being intuition.

All of this contemplation is possible because my husband is taking care—of me, the kids, the house, the food, his work—for which I am most thankful. I’m hoping the fourth day of recovery is as magical as they say (things really take a turn for the better I’m told by those in the know), because the guy needs a break. But while I’ve got this space to myself, I think I’ll flip on Janis and explore my inner rocker. That woman can sing.

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One thought on “Surgical Leisure

  1. Yesterday, I yelled at my husband for not working enough. He yelled at me for working too much. Leisure!? Sometimes I forget that word can still be in my vocabulary as a mother. Oh, and thanks for the Pieper quote. I feel inspired to get his Justice and the Four Cardinal Virtues book that was recommended to me.

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