"The leisure time of most men numbs them: activity drives them mad."- Epicurus, 5th Vatican Saying
Let me just put a big disclaimer here at the beginning of this piece: I'm no puritan. In fact, by the standards of many folks, I'm probably quite the deviant: Atheist. Welfare state liberal.Overweight. Casual drinker. Probably around a 2 on the Kinsey Scale. A Woody Allen fan.
Any one of those things are enough to get me burned at the stake in certain states. All of them put together limit my choices of residency considerably.
So, when I talk about the ways in which a person might prefer to spend their off time, don't think I'm coming at you like I just stepped off the Mayflower.
The truth is, this Vatican saying stings me a little bit, because I realize that in many cases, I'm the guy Epicurus is talking about.
While I'm not a glutton when it comes to food, I think I'm something a little bit worse; I don't overeat because I just can't get enough of a good thing, I overeat because--for some reason--I have a blind urge to consume. I am the same way with information. I take in way too much of it. I don't know why. The same demon that drives me to Wendy's to get a frosty after work also drives me to hit up Wikipedia at least a handful of times a day.
And so it goes for so many of our modes of unwinding: drinking and using drugs to excess, meaningless sexual encounters, time wasted on our knees in church, or standing in line at the buffet, ready to load up that plate a second time...
Do Americans suck at downtime because we have too much of it and are spoiled, or is it because the phrase 'Welfare State' is still considered a curse word in much of the country, and the concepts of self-maintenance and certain things being 'ends unto themselves' are completely foreign to us?
I don't know the answer to this question, but I am aware that I could probably benefit from doing a few crunches.
Hmm. I wonder what Wikipedia has to say about that.