Asobu, Asobu, Asobu!
I wish I could say that I learned what the word ‘asobu’ meant, seated on a mat under the cherry blossom tree in the park springtime, with a shot of sake in my hand. Real story, I learned it at a Nihongo class conducted free for foreigners, in a community center in Sendai, Japan while the family was in residence in this city, on a Japanese government study grant.
It means ‘play’.
Today, 24 years later, it comes back to me as a thought, to which I silently say ‘thinking’, as I do my meditation.
Importance of Rest and Recreation
It's been said that only when our nervous system is in a relaxation response do our body’s self-repair mechanisms function. You can add your own speculations about rejuvenation in relation to that.
Why We Don’t Have Time to Play
For reasons within and outside our control, it seems time has slipped away from our hands.
All the modern equipment that we now have are supposedly invented for us to save time. We sometimes wonder whose time was saved. After the washing machine was invented, we just needed to work longer hours to save money for paying for the machine.
But for reasons within our control … Are there any?
Stephen Covey once taught an important principle: distinguishing between circle of influence (COI) and circle of concern (COC). In diagrammatic representation, COI is inside COC.
Circle of concern are those things we need to attend to but cannot really control. Circle of influence are those within our control. For example, we cannot control the number of hours we need to allocate for school or for work, but we can control the number of hours we spend watching TV.
We increase our circle of influence (COI) when we focus on COI. COI then increases as COC continues to decrease, or as COI increases the quality of how we do things in COC increases, giving us more and more control over the things we can really do something about.
Where does this all figure, as regards to time management? Maybe we just need to look into the things that take up our time. How does the 16-hour block of waking time look on your daily schedule? How does the weekend look like?
Time has always been a paradox to most of us. We say when we have time (e.g. not employed), we don’t have the money and when we have the money (e.g. employed), we don’t have the time.
Does the principle of increasing COI address the issue of this paradox?
If so, we may then have the answer to how we can find time for play.
We all need the time for rest and play, asobu. To be without care, as a child, once again.
My opportunity comes at 2 am every weekend day while it is still quiet all around and everybody is asleep. I steal away for my silent sitting meditation at the family living room.
My soul yearns for this weekend treat, it seems. It is my soul’s asobu.
We can each discover our penchant for asobu, even as grown-ups. We have our different styles of resting and relaxing ourselves. Some go to the beach or to the mountains. Some are into dangerous sports like drag-racing or rock-climbing. Some find cooking and baking relaxing. Some like blogging. Different strokes for different folks. We just need to somehow steal away, find time to regularly do whatever gives our body, mind and soul time for rest.
And yes, learning more Nihongo words under the tutelage of a native speaker under the shade of the cherry blossom tree in full bloom, with a shot of sake in my hand would be nice. I could add that to my wish list.