In August 1955, D. MacClure’s article “The Lost Art of Idling” was published in The American Mercury magazine. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“Has this modern age allowed its greatest men, its leaders of nations and captains of industry to lose that precious thing — the leisure to sit back and think? Today, speed rules their lives and overcrowds their days. It leaves them limp and exhausted.”
This article was written 57-years ago, but it could well have been written today. What do you think MacClure would have to say about our current society where R&R could easily stand for “Read & Respond” rather than “Rest & Relax”? As I see it, instead of taking time to rest, relax, refresh, ponder, and just be still, we are flying through life at mach speed and we are in the habit of being ever-present and connected at all times. But really, what does being ever-present and “connected” really mean these days?
It is very common to see people together at a restaurant not talking to each other, not talking to their children, but instead carrying on phone conversations with others. Have you ever sat down for lunch or dinner with a group of people and noticed how many cell phones are perched right there on the tabletop? Ringing, singing, cell phones all around! And sometimes it is not just one, but two cell phones, and an iPad. “Excuse me, would you mind scooting down just a tish so I can set all of my gadgets right here next to my plate?” It will be a sad day indeed if Emily Post updates her table setting instructions to include a spot for the electronic gadgets. The salad fork goes here, the dinner fork goes there, and the cell phone goes right here on top of the napkin.
Have I ever talked on the phone while others were sitting across from me? Yes, (head hung low) and I apologize for that. Note to self: 1) Press the OFF button, 2) Leave the phone in your purse, 3) Be engaged and enjoy the time spent in the company of others.
And as long as I am confessing my sins, here is another: I do not always answer the phone when it rings. You see, in addition to wanting to be genuinely engaged and connected to others, I am also protective of my quiet R&R time, and I do not want to ever to “lose that precious thing — the leisure to sit back and think” …but please leave a message at the tone and I will return your call just as soon as I can.
To read MacClure’s article in its entirety, click here http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmMercury-1955aug-00013