I have written before about the importance of taking time for leisure. One of the great blessings of the Sabbath is that it forces a person to take a day's break at least once a week. It is so easy to allow your work schedule to completely consume all your time. Productivity is good, so it can be tempting to schedule every waking moment for some form of productive activity. However, without a certain amount of time for leisure, productivity eventually falls. Nobody can work all the time, nor should anyone attempt to.
One of the reasons leisure is so important is because it provides time for contemplation. It is usually during periods of relaxation that we find our minds free to consider bigger picture concerns. We can't think about things in context when we are constantly bogged down with deadlines, appointments and obligations. Most important actions start with thought. So if you are going to do anything meaningful in your life, on the job or at home, you need time to think about it first.
I have a strategy for making sure that I take time for contemplation. Every now and then, I will drive instead of fly to a meeting. Last week, I had a meeting in Chicago. That's 400 miles from Minneapolis, where I live. Typically, I'd fly. Fares are relatively low and it only takes about an hour to make the trip, perhaps two and a half hours, if you figure in the airport time getting through security and waiting at the gate. But that kind of travel is pretty intense. It is not leisurely. I don't get any time to let my mind wonder when I fly and plan my meeting schedule accordingly.
It takes me seven and a half hours to drive to Chicago. The route on the Interstate is very simple. I can drive, pay attention to the road, and still have a clear enough mind to think a bit. In the fall, I even get the bonus of beautiful landscape filled with changing color. It might sound silly to devote 15 hours to round-trip travel to Chicago -- something that should only take five hours -- but that gives me 10 hours for contemplation. That's ten hours to think -- out loud, if I choose. That is time for me to think about where I am in my life, the condition of my relationship with God, my family, and my work. Ideas and revelations emerge that otherwise would most likely have remained buried had I flown into O'Hare.
If you find yourself rushing to meetings in other cities, ask yourself whether you really need to rush. Consider alternatives, if you can. There are benefits to driving or taking a train.