You can learn a lot about a person by how they spend their free time.
Seeing that it’s the weekend, I opt not to work. Instead, I seek to unwind with alternate activities.
The thing about continual multi-tasking during the week is that you can only do it for so long before your productivity is depleted. Pile on a week’s worth of responsibility-induced stress and inefficient amounts of sleep … and you’re pretty much out of fuel by Friday. One must have alternate activities to re-energize the brain.
I meander my way into my office and flip open my laptop. Not to research a strategic opportunity or write yet another business proposal. Instead, I activate Reason — my virtual music studio of choice — plug in my keyboard and begin doodling with some melodies that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days. Composing allows me to engage my creative problem-solving skills without the added stress of timelines or external expectations. The compositions are simply what they end up being. It’s truly therapeutic. And it’s always a kick to hear people’s thoughts on my work once it’s released.
I remember, years ago, when I used to paint to unwind, but that ended about the time I became an Art Director. Suddenly, painting felt too much like “work” to be truly enjoyable – too reminiscent of the daily grind. Not relaxing … no re-energizing there.
In response to my first post, Man with no Name, a friend noted that the question “what do you do for a living?” is a very American one. She explained that, in her international travels, this was not commonly asked. In fact, she further revealed that it is considered uninteresting and even rude. Perhaps we readily ask it because of our western 9-to-5 sensibility or a more materially focused orientation. Whatever the case, it’s an ideology that’s woven deep within us — the thought that what defines a person is what they do to earn a living. It’s a concept that doesn’t hold up in practical observation. How many aspiring artists, actors, lawyers and the like are currently working in occupations that are not their vocation or calling? We live in a society that prefers to define people by their occupation. Yet knowing how a person earns a paycheck does not inherently mean knowing the person at all.
Conversely, I think what a person does for recreation, relaxation … or even passion … can reflect a lot more about them. Perhaps the problem is that many of us don’t make the time to take time off — we’re far too preoccupied with our paycheck-driven work.
I ponder that thought as I transition to the Internet to scout for early reviews of my latest electronic music release. One kind reviewer has given a favorable rating — though he mistakenly attributes my work to another artist. Interestingly, I notice he’s comparing one of my tracks to the work of Bruce Hornsby & The Range. I laugh at the reference, because it was the furthest thing from my mind when I wrote it. I sample a little of that artist’s work on iTunes and fail to see the similarity.
I muse at how different the connections are between reviewer and composer … between observer and participant. How we perceive others on the surface versus a deeper appreciation of their being — the things that serve to ignite and inspire them … or simply provide respite from their work-a-day world. Those much more intriguing, not-so-obvious layers that perhaps underscore and inform their next composition … their next body of work – whether it’s for pay or simply play.
I once asked my insightful friend, in an attempt to learn more about her, what she did to relax. Being of particularly varied interests, she cited cooking, reading, photography, crocheting, and dancing around her house when no one is watching as some of her methods. Her answer doesn’t surprise me. She’s one of the most creative people I know. I imagine there’s a lesson in there somewhere.
After a few more minutes of browsing the search engines, I tire of the computer and decide to go to the park. It is, after all, Sunday. And wasn’t that once a day of rest?