A few weeks ago I was reading another doom and gloom article in TIME about how robots and automatization are taking over the world, people are losing jobs, and the only skills worth pursuing are those that involve creative thought or highly original movements (like human haircutting.)
I keep hearing how these decades-to-come may be called the Great Restructuring.
My first reaction when I read these articles is –
AHHHH I just spent the last 10 years of my life figuring out what I want to do, what if in 5 years I have to start this process again… from scratch!! I better start hoarding cash and skills so I can beat everyone else in the job race!
Or – I am getting older and things are not getting better. What if I’m in my late fifties and s*** really hits the fan?
Obviously – these are very healthy reactions.
As usual, I’m then laying on the couch moaning about living in a basement forever, or scavenging for in dumpsters for food that the robots unknowingly discard when my husband offers a little comfort. Usually something scholarly; insight from a different angle.
Such as this (paraphrase) –
“You know – Marx used to dream about the day when the workers would only have 20 hour work weeks and be able to pursue their own interests. It all comes down to whether they are able to support themselves, and are happily ‘unemployed’ or destitute.”
Aren’t we all striving for an endless weekend? That’s what these books about four hour workweeks are… right?
I haven’t made it my study to know all the detailed logic of how the robot economy will be structured, or how workers will get fed, or what money will look like, or how it will be distributed. My gut instinct is not good (see above). I don’t want to ignore these questions especially because the pertain to issues of social justice and equality.
But one thing I do spend considerable time reading and researching and (as a stay at home mom) participating in is leisure time. Especially (re: stay at home mom) leisure time without a lot of a cash.
If it’s true that in the future we will all have considerably more “disposable time” on our hands, which may, unfortunately, come in the form of unemployment, then collectively we must get better at educating each other, our children, and our society on how to spend that time and ultimately, how to save (or redeem) that time for both restful and creative use. This will be use of time that ultimately should restore our minds and souls, particularly when we may be without roles we’ve counted on in the past – ie: those jobs and the distinctions of certain titles.
From a Christian perspective – it is part of our very nature to act as creators. Men and women are made in the image, after all, of their Creator. In the image of God, they create.
From a psychological perspective (re: Maslow, Csizkzentmihalyi) people seek to become self-fulfilled, to achieve mastery, to be creative, to exist in a state of “flow.” A place where they recognize that they are being optimally engaged in a process that stretches, teaches, and uses their abilities, then allows them to extend them.
Neither or these perspectives is fulfilled by the current ideal American leisure as protrayed in the popular media – shopping for yet another item of clothing – indulging in a mindless moral morass of reality television,* vacationing in Cancun. It is precisely because of that word “mindless” that these activities are not suited toward expanded hours of leisure. To resign ourselves to the majority of our lives attempting to live on the fruits of the creativity of others is to sink our own brains and bodies into slime.
(*Can you mindfully watch television? Yes – I believe that you can. I just don’t believe that you can mindfully watch 35 hours of television a week. Any more than I believe you can mindfully eat 6000 calories a day, or mindfully accrue $10,000 of credit card debt. )
But where have we been instructed in how to creatively and uniquely pursue leisure? Many of our opportunities have been taken away from us by the cheap convenience of mass produced goods (who needs to create clothes anymore?), dwindling budgets (another story about cutting art class? How cliche) or too much time commuting to enjoy nature.
Furthermore, in our leisure time we are often sucked into the shrill shrieks of what claim to be urgent and important information we can’t ignore. 5 Ways to Avoid Obsolescence! 6 New Ways to Make More Money! 10 Things You need to Do before Tonight! How can we pursue growth activities if we must hurry hurry hurry to acquire all of our knowledge.
This is something of an oxymoron. Hurry up and Become Wise.
But I digress.
Let me return to my original question – Where can we look for insight into how to regain creative hobbies, true rest, and searching for the meaning of life. I am interested in finding that balance between rest and creativity, as well as mindful growth and discovery.
So far, I’ve begun to look for different answers in past writers about self knowledge and current writers who advocate for rest and a return to a weekly Sabbath. In the past, I’ve also tried to decrease the amount of time I spend doing mindless things – placing a priority on prioritizing – especially my core values, and knowing what those are.
What are your thought?