In a high school sociology course called “Man in Society”—the very title dates me—one assignment was to dream up hobbies we might pursue in middle age. We were told that with the explosion of labor-saving devices none of us would work more than half-time by middle age, and we would suffer an emotional breakdown without rewarding ways to pass the time. Not only the name of that course proved problematic.
I encounter persistent complaints about having too much to do in too little time and having no room in life for the things one values most. Church members, students, colleagues, friends and even retired folks complain about “time poverty” and “hurry sickness.” This sense that something is awry is neither imagined nor anecdotal: North Americans are busier and work longer hours now than several decades ago.