In the last post, I discussed the difference between telic and atelic activity. One is done as a means to some other end; the other is done for its own sake. We see this in the actions we do every day. But it’s curious to me that we can also see this difference in how we approach our rest.

For instance, what’s the primary purpose of taking a day off from work or going on a vacation? Is it to refresh yourself so you can work harder or better when you return? Or is it for its own sake? Because if the main goal of rest is to later produce better work, then even rest itself has come under the purview of the realm of work. It too has become a means to some other end.

This is different than the idea of true “leisure.” True leisure does not exist for the sake of work. It doesn’t serve the goal of making you more “productive.” It transcends the world of work and utilitarianism, reminding us that not everything has to be a means to some other end. It’s choosing to spend time doing—and enjoying—activities for their own sake, not for some other goal. And that includes the goal of working better when you return. 

Because although better work may indeed be a byproduct, if you look to leisure as primarily a means of restoring or increasing your ability to work, you’ll also miss out on what true leisure is all about.