In the essay ‘The Critic as Artist’ (1891), Oscar Wilde wrote that ‘to do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.’
For the next few weeks, I worked out a lot, which put me in a terrific, if conflicted, mood. Sixty per cent of working Americans say they don’t have enough time to do the things they want to do, and a high income is the most reliable predictor of leisure-time physical activity; getting a lot of exercise feels like a luxury and an advantage. Exercise has kept my head clear, my mood even, my body predictable, my energy up. It has also helped me compete in a culture of escalating beauty expectations and increasingly boundless work. Am I taking care of myself, doing sun salutations in my motivational crop top, or am I running survival drills for life under an advanced capitalist economy? The answer, I’m sure, is both.
As John Muir once said, “Longest is the life that contains the largest amount of time-effacing enjoyment.”