Thursday, October 14, 2010

and now for something completely different

A little while ago, a friend of mine was defending the importance of play and he told me that most primates spend about a third of their day sleeping, a third working, and one third playing. This hit me hard; what would the world be like if we fully expected that humans naturally should spend one third of their lives playing? Not to implicate capitalism, but we live in a production obsessed culture. Play and rest are looked down on as things we ¨don´t have time for.¨Obviously it´s no given that we should try to be like other primates, but I can´t help feeling that this time they may have something.

I asked people what they thought of this, and got a lot of interesting responses. Hyper-busy friends stared at me exhaustedly, as though this was the least realistic suggestion they´d ever heard; I got the feeling they thought I was spoiled for considering it--except for one, who thought it was one of the most brilliant ideas he´d ever heard. One friend suggested that we can say work is mostly about productivity, while play is mostly about creativity. As I continued obsessing, the following items took shape. If we´re serious about spending a third of our lives at play:

1) Then we should think about how to make play-life satisfying just like we think about how to make work-life satisfying. A lot of people are bogged down by bad play. My friend brought up the importance of making time for play a priority because he studies procrastination, and apparently when you pretend you don´t need play, you start playing when you´re supposed to be working. This comes out to be both unsatisfying and unproductive--bad play, and not work.

2) Housework and transportation have to be counted as work. If you work 40 hours a week, that leaves about 16 hours for housework and transportation. In this case, pretending to be primates has some delightful implications for feminism; treating housework as part of the work-week (which should be the same duration for both genders) is probably essential to a feminist way of life.

3) In order for childrearing to work while maintaining a full play schedule, parents and young children need to do things together that feel like play for both of them for 56 hours of the week. Plausible? Maybe, maybe not, but it´s interesting to think about.

4) Then we have to wonder--given modern technology and productive capacity, is there any reason a person who has no disabilities should have to work more than 56 hours per week?

1 comment:

misssrobin said...

Love this idea.

Since I have chronic fatigue, my methods of play have changed. But I do more of it.

I decided today that instead of just giving myself permission to not do things I don't want to because I don't feel well, I am going to give myself permission to do things I enjoy while not doing things I don't feel up to. Kind of goes along with what you're saying.

Thanks for the backup.