I took some time away from this blog to reconsider how I’m approaching my foray into leisure, and am slowly deviating from the laundry list of activities I’ve accumulated. Rather than a diaristic “Today, I did such and such…” reporting method (although learning soutenu turns in ballet class was monumental and worth a little mention), I’m choosing to loosen the grip on the planning and see what events, activities, and invitations come up as I go. This is the framework I’m inventing now, but this entire adventure is mere invention, so the possibilities are boundless. I may even scrap this framework in a few weeks and reinvent a new one.
Leisure, as I am starting to understand it, is uncoerced activity which one has the desire to carry out, experienced during “free” time away from business, work, school, chores, and other such obligations.
The idea of free time is contentious in itself in that financial (in)flexibility and societal pressures can determine which activities are accessible. The Situationist International maintains that free time is illusory and rarely free; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as leisure. (Thanks, Wikipedia).
I’ve been dismantling a few assumptions I’ve made about leisure, with leisure not necessarily equaling pleasure, the possibilities of free time being distinct from leisure, and free time not necessarily being free.
In comes the part about floating. To hopefully release myself from all the slippery muddiness that accompanies definitions and over-thinking and thinking about thinking, I decided to go for a float in an isolation tank, also known as a sensory deprivation tank. Floating is basically a practice that involves lying in a light-tight and soundproof tank with 10 inches of body temperature water with 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts. For roughly 90 minutes, the body remains still, all forces of gravity on the body are eliminated, and you enter a different sensory, psychological, and emotional time and space. Some use the practice for meditation or spiritual growth, others for relaxation and well-being.
This was only my second floating experience, and I know it will get better the more I become accustomed with the practice. I catch glimpses of moments where I physically feel like my body is moving freely in outer space, as if I might crash into the side of the tank, and then when I become concerned about that, the moment is gone. Then I heard a jackhammer from the business next door and realized it was a real sound and not one I was imagining, but the centre has been kind enough to give me a complimentary float for the interruption. I’ll try to stay in outer space a little while longer next time.