Among the numerous benefits ascribed to the new flood of AI software is greater productivity across a wide swatch of industries. Increased content production, faster coding, better data analysis; more more more. To what end? Inevitably, it’s money (a.k.a. “revenue”) and status (primarily for executives) sitting at the end of the rainbow. I can’t think of a better counterpoint to that idea than Zena Hitz’s new piece in Plough exhorting readers to pursue leisure as an end in itself. And not just any kind of leisure—a deeper, more fulfilling version. There are ideas found within that I’ll be returning to again and again. In my down time, of course.

What is leisure, and why is it necessary for human beings? The leisure that I am interested in is not the first thing you may imagine: bingeing Netflix on the couch, lounging at the beach, attending a festive party with friends, or launching yourself from the largest human catapult for the thrill of it. The leisure that is necessary for human beings is not just a break from real life, a place where we rest and restore ourselves in order to go back to work. What we are after is a state that looks like the culmination of a life.

Let’s pause and ask ourselves: What parts of our lives seem to be the culminating parts, the days or hours or minutes where we are living life most fully? When do you stop counting the time and become entirely present to what you are doing? What sorts of activities are you engaged in when this takes place?