I have been dissecting an excellent article by Gary Gutting, and I will do it in several parts so that each thought is contained in one separate blog post. He has written an excellent piece about work, but thinking about it, and reading some of the comments, I agree with so many others that many people have totally wrong conceptions about what is work and leisure. Just take my example. I surf the web a lot (discovering interesting writing, people, images, videos, and such) and that too a lot of people is their leisure activity. For me, it is both leisure and work. I wouldn’t say that I have reached the ideal of making work and leisure one and the same thing (due to financial constraints I still need to work/play).
Gutting quotes Aristotle, “we work to have leisure, on which happiness depends.” It is in the same context that I am reminded of the excellent book “A Happy Death” by Albert Camus. In this book the character Roland Zagreu explains to the narrator Mersault, who is not happy because so much of his life is consumed by work to make ends meet, “Only it takes time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness, too, is a long patience. And in almost every case, we use up our lives making money, when we should be using our money to gain time.”
Now, trust me, I have spent more of my working life toiling in an office, than I have trying to be fully committed to leisure alone. That is what most people do. The conundrum I faced at the time was that when I had a job and money, I had no time for leisure. I put in 60-70 hours each week, I made good money, but I couldn’t buy time. I couldn’t find time to spend with my family or take vacations or just chill during the weekend (yes, I often had to go to work during weekends).
As I started reading more philosophy, I finally concluded that life is not just about possessions and wealth, if it does not produce genuine, unadulterated happiness. Right now by marrying work and leisure, de-emphasizing possessing stuff, and emphasizing happiness, I am so much happier with a lot less money in the bank. The ultimate goal, of course, is to die a happy death where there is nothing but happiness.