Work and Leisure

Work and Leisure. This has been the debate between me and many other students. It never occurred to me that there is anything wrong with me, but my habits seems strange for some people. So let me discuss this in detail here.

Let's define work: "work" here refers to all kind of intellectual activities you do on your own, especially those very hard ones. The word "work" has been given a lot of negative implications, especially in a college. But I love my work! Work is indeed my leisure. I jump out of bed every morning and welcome my day of fun and challenging works: reading, writing, thinking, arguing, destroying and creating etc.

I am always surprised when people ask me: "why are you always working? Why don't you come and have fun with us?" I am surprised for two reasons. First, don't they know how much more fun it is to work than hanging out with them? In the end, what's so fun about them? Second, I do have a lot of human interaction every day, often too much! But not the kind of hanging-out most students do.

By working, you are traveling thousands of miles and thousands of years. You can dialog with the greatest mind in humanity. You can observe and question the most exciting event in human history.

Hanging out with people is great. It is one of the best thing of being a human. That's also why I love the Dining Common. It is the hub for intellectual interaction. You will learn so much from random conversation with some random people.

But think about it as if your time is your money and you are investing it. Hang out with others is like a high-risk & uncertain-return investment. Most of the time is wasted in bullshitting. But working is a low-risk & high-return thing. The high return is 100% guaranteed. The reason is simple: those classic works are the essence of thousands of years of human exploration. It has been proved to be classic. But the daily conversation is happening every day. It is just too cheap and contains little value.

Think about it in another way: why do we want to hang out with others? What's so fun about it? According to my observation, those who hang out too frequently don't really have a genuine interests in other people's life and thoughts. They hang out with each other because they just can't be alone; they are not strong enough to be independent and think for themselves. Or I am just making judgment again.

Another danger of hanging-out: when we hang out with others, we are doing "role play" all the time. How we behave is largely dependent on other people's view on us. We look at ourselves through the eyes of other stupid kids. This will only make us even more stupid. We are too self-conscious. When we role play too much, we will forget who we really are.

At the end of the day, I feel compelled to calm down and leave enough space for reflection. We are fed with too much information and opinion, and we need to process them. Give your true self some room by reduce the hang-out time!

One thing I always ask myself is: do I deserve all the leisure? Why am I the one to enjoy all these luxuries? There are people working 16 hours a days and still live in pain and hunger. What kind of contribution have I done to this world to legitimize my pleasure? I find it hard to answer. I can only say that I have been lucky so far. "Luck" will be the topic of another discussion.

In fact, I never limit myself to my work. I take every chance to interact with other people. Closing the mind is the worst thing to do. Don't make assumptions. Be open and curious. You will be surprised.

My accusation on "hanging out" is aimed at the huge amount of unproductive time many people spent on simply staying with others. This in no way means anything against enjoying life with real friends.

I should end this article by saying that I truly enjoy and deeply appreciate human interaction, especially with Hampshire students. It is just the case that good company comes not that often =)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

That's true! But balancing social activities and the less social learning and personal growth is an art everyone has to figure out - even though I totally agree that "hanging out" often sounds like "wasting time"... It just is important to appreciate when others would like to share some of their time.