Leisure gives space and time for reflection and the unveiling of our inner genius, but there has to be an equilibrium struck between steering our mind in some instances and letting the mind steer us at others
One fine afternoon, when the great scientist Albert Einstein was “just chilling” and randomly observing a window cleaner through his window, it was at this unexpected and leisurely hour that his thoughts elevated him to great heights and a huge conundrum that he’d been struggling with as a physicist began solving itself in his mind. This thought experiment which was unintended and unforced but natural, turned out to be a fruitful epiphany which made Einstein work out the riddle of gravity in extension to his Special Theory of Relativity and proved pivotal in his General Theory. This thought changed the course of scientific approach forever.
Let’s go further back in time. As legend has it, Isaac Newton, another name in the pantheon of great scientists, was sitting under a tree when the apple fell. Newton, as I imagine it, must have been just relaxing, relishing the flow of time and marvelling at nature. Another such crucial yet hilarious incident was the discovery of Archimedes’ idea of buoyancy. Archimedes, otherwise an untidy math geek, while force-bathing himself had such a startling insight that he is believed to have run naked out and down the street crying Eureka! Buoyancy and its laws were thence discovered in the leisurely practice of an otherwise busy mind. Some of the greatest discoveries of thought, be those scientific or philosophical, have dawned upon the human psyche in the middle of leisure.
In the current fast-paced world which is obsessed with hustle and makes you feel inadequate and unaccomplished if you’re not working round the clock to rapidly achieve far-fetched goals, which are majorly dictated by capitalistic and consumerist standards, it’s essential to regularly pull back, recline, and take moments to reflect over the fact that you’re essentially a biological being rather than a mechanical one. It is necessary to let our bodies, brains and spirits have a healthy rest. Leisure is when the creative faculties of our brain are let loose and with the same, a reverie of abundant creativity cascades. But a discipline of thought at all times is a prerequisite for the fruition of a creative leisure. Utmost care and mindfulness has to be employed so as to avoid the potential havoc caused by liberty of thought. There has to be an equilibrium struck between steering our mind in some instances and letting the mind steer us at others.
When we are absorbed in our daily work, it is necessary to practice caution and not yield to the temptation of letting our mind and its attention wander in the whirlpool of unwarranted and futile allure. This of course can’t be controlled to the fullest, considering that we live in a world of clicks and blips and doomed scrolling, where our attention span has been reduced to as less as a few seconds. We are glued online with our brains being pulled in numerous directions all at once and an explosion of content and information being thrown at us which leaves our brain overstimulated and hence underperforming, at least in the context of creative thoughts. Switching off the gadgets every now and then to take a walk down the street or just to stare out the window or at the ceiling or gaze at the starry sky, or read a book would prove to be helpful in regaining a sense of calm and rest from hectic amusement and continuously exhaustive dopamine rush. A healthy mind is a precursor to a healthy leisure, and vice versa.
A human being with all its inner complexities does learn a lot by pursuing knowledge and through the assimilation of external information, be it visual, verbal or written. But the same human being with the same inner complexities will intuitively find many important insights pouring out from the core of his or her being, which is wise and inherently aware. Such knowledge and wisdom comes from contemplation in the moments of break from the mundane and the routine. Leisure thus gives space and time for reflection and the unveiling of our inner genius. Hobbies and interests of a person also attain nourishment if time is regularly assigned to pursue them. Depending on the propensity and personality, different people may choose to indulge in different activities in their leisure time. Physical exercise, sports and adventure seeking can be incorporated in such timeoffs.
Leisure has many spiritual benefits as well. It allows time to connect with nature and God. Human spirit and consciousness requires instances of detachment from the onerous rut to attain some moments of solitude and reap its benefits. Aloneness with the self helps in rejuvenating and blossoming our souls. Refinement of soul is a result of regular, intentional and mindful discipline between work and leisure. It’s pertinent to mention that leisure does not at all mean wasteful idleness, escapism or procrastination, but is the time post necessary work which one allocates for reflection and recreation. Let’s normalise taking regular breaks from the ceaseless flux of life to reclaim our humanness as the goal is not just to be rich and mighty but to be healthy, happy and harmless.
The writer is a civil engineering graduate currently working in an edu-tech organisation. She is a regular reader and an occasional writer. [email protected]