I had a full day yesterday. From 8am to 5, I was constantly doing, making sure I didn’t miss any deadlines. Finance assignment due at 12PM, not a minute after; oceanography lab due before the office closes at 5PM; video project #2 due under the professor’s door before the day ends. All this wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t just spent the week with Kirk before he had to fly back to Chicago. It wouldn’t have been any deal at all if I was back at MSU. I’ve gotten so used to having only 3 classes and all the free time in the world that when a few due dates bottleneck in the same day it becomes an ordeal. Everyone just accomplishes less over here. And who thinks that accomplishing less is a bad thing? I associate the word ‘accomplish’ with stress, lack of sleep, and when the task is done, often a feeling of underachievement, a questioning: was all that time I spent really worth it?

However, there is something to be said for doing things. Without something to do, I feel idle and mildly depressed. I just finished reading The Pursuit of Happiness by David G. Myers, Ph. D, recommended by the professors of my COM 225: Interpersonal Relationships class from sophomore year. And no, its not the book from which the heartwarming movie was adapted. “Bursts with thought-provoking, innovative material… If there were a textbook on the subject of happiness, this would be it,” reads the accolade from Publishers Weekly on the cover. A chapter in the book called ‘”Flow” in Work and Play’ comments on our (western culture’s) use of free time:

Why do most people in their hard-won free time sink into… “a state of apathy that brings no joy.” Are we simply too exhausted to enjoy more active leisure? If so, why do so many people in more traditional societies (such as Thai villages and Alpine farming communities) work dawn to dusk in the fields and then spend their free time weaving, carving, playing musical instruments, and engaging in other flowlike activities? The problem seems to be our culture’s reliance on television and other forms of passive leisure and on our inability to structure our free time in ways that would enhance our well-beiing. Well-being resides not in mindless passivity but in mindful challenge.


So, off your duffs, couch potatoes… Tune up that instrument. Sharpen those woodworking tools. Get out those quilting needles. Inflate that family basketball. Pull down a good book. Oil that fishing reel… Rather than vegetating in self-focused idleness, lose yourself in the flow of active work and play. You may be surprised what happens. “In every part and corner of our life, to lose oneself is to be a gainer,” noted Robert Louis Stevenson; “to forget oneself is to be happy.”

So why am I lazing around on the couch, fostering a best friendship with my laptop? For their are times to do, and times to just be. After weeks of traveling, even if it did include Fiji, I’m simply glad to have a breather and rest. Glad to be back at my sunny, cozy flat with a real comfy bed, broadband internet to chat with my family, a clean kitchen containing all necessary utensils, and the familiar friendly faces of my roommates. I’ll get back into the flow soon enough.