When Did Leisure Become a Curse Word?

Creative Commons

Creative Commons


W. H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep cows.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Life in the West is utilitarian and practical (not in the good sense). We punish people for stopping to breathe, stare, and take in things that don’t equate to monetary gain, or getting things done. 

Long lunches and conversation turn into business meetings and strategy sessions.

The intake of art, music, nature, literature, and poetry frowned upon, because… oh what a time waster. The Protestant Work Ethic has a stronghold on most, me included.

When Christians take a day to rest and worship and celebrate being alive in light of their Creator. They're seen as lazy and idle because the boss needs one more spreadsheet and email sent. No rest for the weary.

With all the problems in our society albeit political, educational, religious, morally, or name the category. One problem is dismissed: leisure. We speak past one another. Bowed to the god of productivity and personal development.  We often miss out on the little gifts of Grace all around us because we don’t know how to stand and stare. 

This is not a Christian or atheist, urban or rural, rich or poor, black, white, or brown problem… it’s a human problem. 

What is this life, full of care, if we have no time to stare?

A good question worth considering.