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Spare Time is Great when you really Work hard!

Updated on May 23, 2013

Heart and Mind Series

Neolithic man actually worked at hunting only a few hours a week. Other duties fell to the tribal units as meals, clothing making, tool and weapon construction and other essential functions. They were at their lives all the time and they were at life all the time. They relaxed when they relaxed. They worked and laughed and loved and defended themselves, betimes, and probably would not even understand the phrase, “spare time” or “over work”.

The “Edenic”state is a “looking back”. What does it look back to? Religious discussion aside, it moves mankind forward into a new “work style”. When we look at the “hunter gatherer” life, it is a wistful memory as we leaned on our plows and lived with the Age of Agriculture that came to us with its intensive labor requirements. Hard work, overwork and the binding nature of labor has indeed become a “curse” to mankind, but also the avenue to prosperity and the growth of civilization.

And oh yes, “spare time”, it became an alternative state to be considered after formal work. I remember reading about medieval farmers in Europe, who during winter had almost nothing to do. Sure there were chores, but the guys were “in the way”. That is a very old complaint. And then when planting and harvesting came along, they were overwhelmed with work during key times. They would peer down the gray cold days of February and say. “Wow, I love this spare time.”

Spare time, as we might think of it, is really a modern phrase. “Overwork” as a phrase is clinical, political and very darned real. It relates mightily to our modern lives. During the recent recession more and more workers are complaining about the increasing demands upon their time and how 50 and 60 hour weeks are becoming the norm for certain professional roles. The working force trembles as it fears another layoff.

The Liturgy of Modernity and the Working World

We can probably agree that the idea of “spare time” became official with the advent of the “work week”. As I ponder the state of my brother and sister modern citizens of the world, I think that the word “spare time” actually carries with it an automatic Liturgy of Modernity and the Working World. The Internet and the Technology of the last 30 years have given us a kind of linguistic and symbolic reference point. The very idea of Spare Time, and How We Don’t Have Any of It --- goes to the frenzied nature of urban settings, rapid transit, cars, traffic, television and how we are all electronically interconnected and more deeply, but not more subtly; all of these things connect us at the level of the generally disquieted soul, and the troubled and overworked heart. Our overwork becomes the sole way we hold onto security and thus our homes and our families. The “Workaholic” has become the “true believer” and clerical cohort of the armies of individuals who work alongside them. They are victims, but also soldiers. Their very existence as an increasing social condition demonstrates that the Liturgy of Modernity and the Working World is spoken and declared all over.

Parkinson’s Law

The idea of Spare time logically exists because of “Work”, which C. Northcote Parkinson said: “expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” While his specific target was the growth of bureaucracies, it was also became a discussion of the nature of the human undertaking of work.

C. Northcote Parkinson became a famous writer and thinker on the topic of time management and bureaucratic action. He was famous for his humor in 1958, while in Singapore, Parkinson published his most famous work -- Parkinson's Law, a book that expanded upon a humorous article that he had first published in the Economist magazine in November 1955, satirizing government bureaucracies.

The 120-page book, first published in the United States and then in Britain, became an instant best seller. This collection of short studies explained the inevitability of bureaucratic expansion, arguing that 'work expands to fill the time available for its completion'. Time Management Consultants, Authors and Speakers have commented on the way humans approach their tasks of work and how they structure their lives in the working world.

Here was an idea that work does actually “expand” intrigued people because there was a realization that work was not strictly “cement that had to be poured for a sidewalk”, work was the totality of all that could be construed to be chargeable under its broad category. And this logically leads to the topic of “spare time”, which all of us “seem not to have any of”.

“Spare Time” actually says so much! In its global apprehension, it is actually a Yearning for Rest, a Desire for Artistic Ease or a Diversion in a Nest of Non Concern. Spare Time has an implicit wish with it, and yet the very existence of the word speaks volumes about the way that our lives work and our heads wrap around our lives. It is both animating and finalizing. Do I have the spare time? How much spare time do I have? Will the spare time I use be useful, economical or profitable? “Oh, it’s just going to be fun? What the…?”

So, “spare time” is by definition or understanding: SPARE TIME has 2 senses:

1. time available for hobbies and other activities that you enjoy

2. time that is free from duties or responsibilities

The Spare Time Corollary: Spare Time shrinks so as to make allowances for the “Expanded Work” that naturally occurs because of Parkinson’s Law and the lack of true Time Management. Of course, if your Management does not have true control over Time, the workers below will be “blessed” with the “expansion” of their labor and job description.

The Spare Time Shrinkage causes an inner Sense of Urgency and Lack of Ease. But there are psychological benefits and drawbacks. The sense that you have no spare time allows you to explain why you have not accomplished certain tasks or duties that you SAY you want to get done. It is a Tepee of Protection that we give ourselves so that when the winds pick up and the storms make noises over head, we can safely say and declare to loved ones, (but mainly ourselves) that we did not fail to get something done, we only became “short sheeted” by Spare Time Shrinkage. Again, I view this as a benefit to the modern worker.

The Long Term Answer for No Spare Time. Do not think that because you are simply who you are that your Spare Time and Self Analysis will give you an explanation for the totality of your life. DO NOT USE THE SPARE TIME SHRINKAGE TO BE YOUR EXPLANATION FOR YOUR CURRENT LACK OF OR SURGE IN PRODUCTIVITY. Sound silly? That is what we do when we hear those Spare Time Questions in our head. So, when we start stopping the anguish of “what did I do with my life” and “what am I doing with my spare time” to have any power, then we can just go back to our Neolithic Man State of Mind. So, then we can freely ask ourselves: “Don’t I deserve some spare time, and that money is spent in my behalf?”

A Longing for Shangri La

And so, because of Spare Time Shrinkage brought on by Parkinsonian Work Expansion we develop a Longing for Shangri La. Oh, we have am embedded DNA yearning for an Edenic place of comfort and solace, but modernity adds naturally to this inner urge. That special Las Vegas Vacation, that Hideaway in Aspen, the Cruise in the Caribbean, that longing to just disappear.

All of these things are natural to us as humans, but the dealing with modernity and the demands of urban life make us truly develop hopes and dreams that we either schedule and go do, or we do not make time for. But in these cases the Spare Time Shrinkage tends to build our angst and our longing in a very concrete way. We either use Spare Time Shrinkage as a reason for why we can’t go this year, or why we ARE going to go this year because we are tired of saying we are under the Rulership of Spare Time Shrinkage

The Sense of Busyness Syndrome

It is absolutely essential that modern Americans feel busy, perhaps overwhelmed and near suicidal. The SBS is a modern phenomenon and because of the word we have all come to call “stress”, the Sense of Busyness Syndrome will plague most active Americans who are pre retirement. I would go as far as saying it has become a psychological commodity that we all trade in. It gives us Citizenship Papers in the modern conflict of economic and social survival. This Sense of Busyness is an all pervading and abiding style of life that cannot truly be nullified. From Calcutta to New York City to Mexico City to Singapore this way of life is established.

There is something about “adrenalin” as a kind of internally produced drug that makes us successful at our overwork, and yet regretful that we seem to be required to live on our adrenalin. And alas, we do not want to be laid off or fired. Women and men line up each day to declare that they have the “adrenalin” and they can endure the “stress” of overwork.

Retirement Spare and Work Time Flipping

The word “retirement” does not necessarily indicate that there will be less Spare Time Busyness Syndrome, however, it could mean that the Spare Time Corollary and Parkinson’s Law work in a kind of dualistic opposition to each other. That being that Retirement Duties can still be structured, formal and important and therefore important to the individual, as if the level of busyness was the same as in pre retirement, only the character and nature of those duties changes.

Those who tend by their nature to thrive on the adrenalin secretions and talk about the “hundreds of things they have to do” can control their retirement lives so that the Spare Time Busyness Syndrome continues. We are a hard working and busy people, and thanks to many religious and philosophic points of view, most of us still praise the person who works hard. And we also look askance at those who do not seem to work as hard as they should, and have too much time. In many people’s minds, these are the unemployed or the “takers” in society.

The Complexity of Modernity – Workaholism and Its Nature

Don’t let yourself be an automaton of this Complexity of Modernity. Perhaps a good, really in shape “workaholic” would be offended to be called an automaton, and perhaps it is a little harsh. There are many ways of understanding this illness, and many resources to use to “come back” from this difficult journey that many go on. The awakened soul who embraces their challenges with perspective and a sense of Purposeful Intention can handle both the “Parkinsonian World of Expanding Work” and the true search for Liberating Spare Time.

It is important for each soul to sit back and come to a reconciliation of how your work, your life and loves and your search for the private freedom of Spare Time. They are all a part of your daily challenge. Those who become “workaholics” do suffer even though they may not see it as such. They are indeed a more and more common phenomenon as time goes on. How this condition inflicts its punishments vary from individual to individual and they change and intensify as time goes on. The “” link at the bottom of this article is a fascinating source.

Don’t let yourself be whipped by work. And, let the idea of “spare time” grow its’ own set of personal goals for you. Spare Time is that lingering remembrance of an “Edenic” state. It is there to tell us something about ourselves and our work. We would not think about Eden or Shangri La were it not for our busy daily lives. So, it could be beneficial to look to Shangri La. Love the idea of Shangri La. The very idea of Retirement is also changing for many of us. It is a goal however that we should nurture. After all, when we talk about work and spare time we are talking about our careers, and when we think about Shangri La we are thinking about our internal lives and the idea of Retirement, and what it is going to mean to us.

When you think of Spare Time, think of it as time for your Soul and your Heart. This is a soft recommendation, but something akin to this, that you come up with yourself, will probably be most helpful to health, vitality, vibrancy and joy.


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