Andrew Sullivan is far and away my favorite social and political commentator. His book The Conservative Soul has influenced my own political thinking more than anything I’ve ever read. I’m on my fifth run through right now, and as with other greats, each time reveals gems.
I just spotted this passage that seems especially interesting to me now…
The freest society is the one in which the quintessential, ultimate activity is play. Security is guaranteed; Work is done; the wealth that freedom creates enables leisure; and leisure begets play. When we play games we suspend for a time the burdens of practical life- of earning a living, feeding our bodies, getting enough sleep, saving our souls. We engage in activity that has no point; and those who play games merely to win them miss the point of playing. Games help us learn restraint, prudence, and cooperation that are central to democratic life. They teach us activities that lead nowhere but where they are.
Appreciation of those self-fulfilling activities is growing ever more important to me. If one is able to do something for its own sake without need for specific outcomes, than happiness in life is guaranteed. Though, I’m learning that it is much easier said than done. Most of the time I find myself battling it. I am not sure about you, but I always seem to want a specific result when I do something. It’s human nature, I suspect.
But if we are able to do things for the sake of doing them, without any regard for what happens, then we’ve reached an impressive pinnacle.