Giving Time

This inner gesture of giving yourself to it, of letting go from moment to moment, is what is so terribly difficult for us; but it can be applied to almost any area of experience. We mentioned time, for instance: there is the whole problem of “free time,” as we call it, of leisure. We think of leisure as the privilege of those who can afford to take time (this endless taking!) – when in reality it isn’t a privilege at all. Leisure is a virtue, and one that anyone can acquire. It is not a matter of taking but of giving time.

Leisure is the virtue of those who give time to whatever it is that takes time – give as much time to it as it takes.

That is the reason why leisure is almost inaccessible to us. We are so preoccupied with taking, with appropriating. Hence, there is more and more free time, and less and less leisure. In former centuries when there was much less free time for anybody, and vacations, for instance, were unheard of, people were leisurely while working; now they work hard at being leisurely. You find people who work from nine to five with this attitude of “Let’s get it done, let’s take things in hand,” totally purpose oriented, and when five o’clock comes they are exhausted and have no time for real leisure either. If you don’t work leisurely, you won’t be able to play leisurely. So they collapse, or else they pick up their tennis racket or their golf clubs and continue working, giving themselves a workout as they say.”

David Steindl-Rast

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