Wisdom: Ursula K. Le Guin on 'spare time'
One of our most elegantly imaginative writers, Ursula Le Guin, died at the end of January at eighty-eight. I sat quietly with the news, once again in appreciation of her brilliance, somehow simultaneously warm and sharp, and with the generous gifts of her work. "I wish we could all live in a big house with unlocked doors", she said, and when I read her, I dwell there.
Brain Pickings published an excerpt of an essay from her last nonfiction collection, "No Time to Spare", essential to anyone wondering"what I will do with my time, when I don't work?", especially my friends in jobs that rule every waking minute, and even invade dreams.
Le Guin pokes fun at a Harvard survey she receives that relegates art to something the respondent might do in her "spare time"—a legitimate beef for any artist— but she is most broadly relevant when she catalogs the opposite, "occupied time". With her particular sensibility, she describes in poetic yet concrete terms the difference between being busy with doing and being occupied by living.
I am not merely recommending it, I'm yearning for you to read it.
Should you crave more, another BrainPickings link will provide Le Guin on aging and beauty (by way of an inquisition into the nature of dogs versus cats, a little dividend). She segues to humans, and writes,
"Perfection is 'lean' and 'taut' and 'hard', like a boy athlete of twenty or a girl gymnast of twelve. What kind of body is that for a man of fifty or a woman of any age? 'Perfect'? What's perfect? A black cat on a white cushion, a white cat on a black one...A soft brown woman in a flowery dress...There are a whole lot of ways to be perfect, and not one of them is attained through punishment."