As I left Pittsburgh for New York not three weeks ago, and New York for Boston, I got to experience the joy of flying again: The takeoff, the exhilaration of launching a ship into space, the views of the city when every skyscraper becomes a doll house.
Photo credit: Noah Silliman
On the flight to New York, I had the privilege of sitting by a window in front of a little girl also sitting by a window. Takeoff was, for her, one of the greatest things in the world. I knew it by what she said. And when we left the city behind, we traded that view for literally golden clouds, shining in the glory of the new day.
Author’s Note: This review was originally written for a seminar class, hence the academic tone.
Photo credit: Steve Richey
Leisure may seem to be the defining fruit of Western affluence: Free time is more abundant than ever, as are the diversions with which to fill it. The availability of movies, music, games, and all kinds of hobbies, combined with a general lack of concern over the most basic needs in life, would seem to crown the typical Westerner a veritable king of leisure. Yet, according to Josef Pieper, leisure “is a mental and spiritual attitude — it is not simply the result of external factors.” It requires a man to be at one with himself, something rarely needed for many activities considered leisure today. By Pieper’s understanding of leisure, the modern world is in trouble.
I never thought much about keeping the Sabbath until high school. While I went to church, and enjoyed two large meals with my family (breakfast and dinner), I didn’t necessarily seek ways to rest. In fact, I remember studying for AP exams in the afternoon.
But at some point, I had two friends who shared how they didn’t study on Sunday. The idea was quite foreign to me, and I was concerned that if I took a day off every week, I would never be able to get everything done. Nonetheless, I decided I should.
Early this summer, one of my new Maryland friends introduced me to the world of guitars. Yes, I knew what a guitar was before… but no one had ever showed me the basics: This is a string, and that’s a fret. Here’s a chord, and you can play.
After a few weeks of practicing on my friend’s guitar, I bought my own acoustic — a Seagull S6 “Original” — so that I can continue to learn and play back at school. At first, I was intimidated by the guitar; I wanted to jump in and play something impressive and difficult, but that’s impossible without understanding the basics. Eventually, I realized I would be wiser (and learn faster) to begin at the beginning, learn two chords, and go from there.
Many glorious things in life are free, and it is no coincidence that none of them have obnoxious labels with all capital letters. Take a flower, for instance; stop and smell it, and remember the words of Chesterton.
Nearly all the best and most precious things in the universe you can get for a halfpenny.
I make an exception, of course, of the sun, the moon, the earth, people, stars, thunderstorms, and such trifles. You can get them for nothing.
— G. K. Chesterton
An attitude of wonder for these free and best things in the universe should not be underestimated. Is it possible to learn or live well without such a perspective?