Does recreation serve a purpose?

So many people out there working. They must be, because I don’t see them out and about. Not standing in the driveway talking to their neighbor. Not playing ball with their kid. Not even walking or jogging or biking. It just feels like we are all about the toil. Get up. Get to work. Come home exhausted. Maybe we rest and read the paper or watch the news or a show. But come morning, we get up and do it again. Kind of a treadmill existence, I’m thinking.

Work and rest. Work and rest. There’s a rhythm. And it’s purposeful. We get something done. But it begs the question, what about recreation? Because that’s what most people consider my job. I am in the recreation business.

Oh, I can convince them to exercise because “it’s healthy” or “it’s good for them” or “it will help them lose weight or have more energy or live longer…” or …- well, there are a number of ‘good reasons’ for exercise. I can explain ‘the purpose’ to them. And if there’s a purpose, because we are purpose-driven people, we can justify spending the time.

But what about recreation? What about something whose purpose is not so defined. It’s not exactly rest. It’s not exactly fun. It’s not exactly productive. Does it have a purpose? If not, why bother, right?

Rest-fun-productive…it’s all of these. How do I know?

Well, I am an expert, after all. I was trained in “exercise science.” My masters program, and I’m not making this up, was in the Department of Human Kinetics and Leisure Studies. Yes, ‘Leisure Studies,’ partly because they didn’t know what to do with the recreational programs (like dance and activity classes and sports skill classes) but also, I think, because there is something about ‘leisure’ that is worth applying oneself to studying. In today’s language, we would call it recreation.

Recreation, whether there are winners or losers, whether there is weight lost or miles covered, whether there are lessons learned or improvements made, is good. It provides time and space for the what else. The things that don’t command our workdays. Opportunity to connect with something that wasn’t in the game plan, someone we wouldn’t normally see or hear from, a place or a person who ‘just happens by.’ That person may be us. The ‘us’ that isn’t engaged in the four other things that need doing.

Now, full disclaimer, I am very bad at allowing space for recreating. I’m not that disciplined. I just keep plugging along at the work that is meaningful and purposeful. And I think I’m pretty productive in the slog, until something or someone comes along and insists we “recreate.” Throw a softball, go to a movie, go out for coffee or a lunch.

And a funny thing happens. When I return to the work I was doing I bring so much more to it. More energy. More ideas. More determination. More purpose.

I guess that’s why they call it re-creation. It’s good for you. But more than that, it’s GOOD-ness for you. I imagine it’s God’s approach to interval training. Work/Serve then Rest/Re-create. He’s in charge of it all. Created it for our good and His purposes.

Which I’m pretty sure I will never know if I refuse His offer. I mean, who in his right mind would refuse the invitation of God, “Come on. Let’s re-create you.” I sure feel more creative after I join Him. So, if I’m in the recreation business…I guess that’s a big job. Better get to work!

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About wlebolt

Wendy is a health and fitness professional and coach who specializes in helping young athletes dig deep to reach high. Her business, Fit2Finish, LLC, serves the Washington DC metropolitan area.

Posted on March 19, 2013, in Body, In Action and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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