Observe the animals excluding the human one; what do they all do, except perhaps the male lion who awaits the predatory prowess of the lioness and her cubs who hunt for the royal crown; and the rest, of constant pecking, searching, laboring just to survive. Nature’s law requires survival; survival mandates predatory consumption; the rest look out that they are not in the sequence of a food chain that includes one’s self. For, it is the resting bird, the supine squirrel and the slumbering rabbit that becomes the meal of Nature’s law.
Leisure, by contrast, is a relatively modern concept. In the yesteryears when wagons traveled upon roads uncharted, and weekends were comprised of a Sunday afternoon beyond the morning prayers and sitting upon the hard bench of a preacher’s sermon about sin and hellfire, even then the food to be prepared for the evening meal, the water to be gathered from the river beyond the horizon, and the animals that required tending lest fences left rotting allowed for the nighttime burglars of foxes and coyotes to wander uninvited for an unsolicited meal; no, leisure is nature’s antonym, unknown and relatively unheard of except in these days of modernity, where the right to full weekends and paid vacations and “down-time” and sustained interludes of systematic quietude are a necessity within this world of constant razzle-dazzle in noisy streets of uninterrupted brackets of thunderous blaring where we cannot even think without being bombarded with informational overload.
Leisure requires time; time necessitates periods of calm away from the constancy of survival’s instinct, where the appetitive division of the soul is taking a break from the search for satisfaction, thus allowing for a reflective repose, an interlude of contemplation and a self-recognition that, yes, I am actually enjoying myself in doing this mindless activity or fun engagement. Leisure is, in the end, nature’s antonym, in the very resistance to being able to relax, to reflect and to remain relatively rested in retrospective renditions of relentless reaping in the reality of raucous and riotous living (sorry about the alliteration, but it cannot be helped for fear of further farcical fancies fettered forever from feckless and foreign flattery).
In modernity, it has somehow become turned upside down, where leisure was once unheard of, dangerous to the very instinct of survival, and rarely engaged except in the slumber of midnight exhaustion. Now, it is declared to be its very opposite – of a necessary means to survive, and without which work and ‘making a living’ cannot be accomplished because time away allows for the restorative powers to reenergize those proverbial batteries gone dead.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to contemplate filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there is little time to contemplate leisure as Nature’s antonym. Chronic medical conditions tend to be a type of ‘work’ in and of itself – exhausting because of the constant attention it requires, and profoundly fatiguing upon one’s body, mind and soul.
That being said, obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement is necessary for precisely that reason – as a means of focusing upon one’s health, in order to attain a level of normalcy such that tomorrow can be another day to battle. In that sense, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is an exception to the rule – for, it is not leisure as Nature’s antonym, but more likened to the days of yesteryear when the one time the body required leisure was to rest in order to regain one’s health, just to have another tomorrow to battle the greater world of predatory juggernauts.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire