[T]he code of life of the High Middle Ages said something entirely opposite to this: that it was precisely lack of leisure, an inability to be at leisure, that went together with idleness; that the restlessness of work-for-work’s-sake arose from nothing other than idleness. There is a curious connection in the fact that the restlessness of a self-destructive work-fanaticism should take its rise from the absence of a will to accomplish something… Acedia is the “despair of weakness,” of which Kierkegaard said, that it consists in someone “despairingly” not wanting “to be oneself.” The metaphysical-theological concept of idleness means, then, that man finally does not agree with his own existence; that behind all his energetic activity, he is not at one with himself; that, as the Middle Ages expressed it, sadness has seized him in the face of the divine Goodness that lives within him — and this sadness is that “sadness of the world,” (tristitia saeculi) spoken of in the Bible.

…The opposite of acedia is not the industrious spirit of the daily effort to make a living, but rather the cheerful affirmation by man of his own existence, of the world as a whole, and of God — of Love, that is, from which arises that special freshness of action, which would never be confused by anyone with any experience with the narrow activity of the “workaholic.”

— Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture

Philosophers dating back to Plato and Aristotle have expressed contempt for manual labor and those who work for a living. But for those of us who aren’t slaveowners or members of the landed aristocracy, we unfortunately have to settle for a more anemic form of leisure —  a few minutes of quiet and privacy during the day, a short walk in the evening, an hour’s reading before bed. If we want true leisure, we don’t have the option to avoid industriousness; we can only choose frugality. The less you owe and need, the harder for the creditors and bosses to catch you by the short hairs. I work entirely for myself now, and while this is an incredibly busy time of year, leaving little in the way of free time, I find it much easier to cheerfully affirm my existence when I don’t have to worry about the wolf at the door.