Leisure is that sweetest of moments when a man has nothing specific to do, when he is his own master and can dispose of his spare time at his own sweet will. Not only is a man then free from work, he is with an unoccupied mind.
The necessity for having a rest from work and worry cannot be too much stressed. It has been said—sweet is pleasure after pain, i.e. labour. Nothing wears out a man both physically and mentally as continuous pre-occupation with worldly matters.
Most men, therefore, find life a strenuous business. This is the tragedy of life; work and work —both are equally unavoidable yet both are equally tiresome. The continuity of this chain has to be broken now and then to enable one to recover one's freshness, to take mind off, on a holiday. Leisure breaks upon the monotony of existence with a touch of variety. Man's life is usually bound by routine; leisure affords an opportunity to escape out of the compulsions of routine and breathe the fresh air of freedom. This, therefore, is always a source of joy whenever it comes.
But the problem is—how to acquire leisure. Life is not an easy affair these days. The mere task of keeping the body and soul together strains resources to the utmost limit. To live well one has to be incessantly toiling, just to earn that extra bit of money. We all are slaves to necessities.
Hence, the problem of having a work-free period is difficult to solve. The best way to do it is to have a socialistic society, where work is rationed in terms of social needs. But that society still remains an ideal. The old-school people say — if your work does not give you anything more than mere subsistence, be contented with that, and instead of multiplying hours of work to win a surplus income — to bring grist to the mill-take and hour or two off to wander away into the dreamland of your fancy or thoughts of God or religion.
But suppose we have snatched a period of leisure from the tyranny of routine, very few of us know how to spend our work-free hours. It is necessary for all of us to cultivate some hobby, something non-essential in which our minds may have rest and relaxation.
Human brain reaches a fatigue curve by constantly minding remunerative work. Brain and brawn then need respite or leisure. But the idle brain is the devil's workshop. So some hobby should be cultivated and pursued to recuperate our energy. Book-lovers can turn over the pages of some favourite book. Those who love the open-air country-side may take to the joy of standing out in the open and feed their senses with the sights and sounds that create beauty and music. Of course, there is no limit to ways in which we can get through time fruitfully.
Leisure perhaps is the very essence of life. We live not to create work but to enjoy leisure. Somerset Maugm considers leisure as the most priceless thing a man can have. To him the only object of work is to obtain leisure.
So Bertrand Russell prescribed only four hour work a day to earn livelihood and the rest is for enjoying leisure. Or we may say, the sole purpose of work is to create leisure. The happiest man, of course, is he whose work is leisure, who finds perpetual joy in the work he has to perform, i.e. who earns his living by his hobby. For, to such a man work is never a soul-killing drudgery. So the Government of a welfare state of today has a Ministry of Leisure to suggest ways to fruitfully spend spare time.
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