It’s More Fun to Participate
MODERN conveniences and new work schedules are allowing more people to have time for leisure than ever before. Yet many are not enjoying it fully. Is this true of you? Does your leisure give you pleasure? Or does it leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied?
Why not analyze what you do for recreation? Is most of your leisure time spent watching television, going to motion pictures, attending sports events or musical concerts? Is this the best way to obtain the greatest pleasure from leisure time?
Do you recall an occasion when you were an active participant in some recreational activity? Maybe it was an outdoor game played with friends or a songfest. When it was over, how did you feel? Did you talk enthusiastically about how much fun it all was? Most likely the experience is still vivid in your mind.
Of course, this is not saying that you cannot have fun as a spectator. But, undeniably, it is more fun to participate.
Benefits of Participating
Participating does require more effort than being a passive spectator. But there are good reasons why it is worth the effort. There are benefits to be reaped.
For example, remember that outdoor game you played with friends. Recall how you had to be constantly alert and even nimble at times. Your eyes, ears, brain, voice—your whole body was involved in the action. And was it not exhilarating to find yourself responding fairly well to the game’s demands? Oh, there may have been some bunglings, but they all added to the fun. If you had been just watching that game, you would have used only your eyes and ears. But participation brought more of your senses into play. It helped to keep your mind alert.
Also consider the beneficial exercise that you got. The body needs this. Dr. Sol C. Colman, a Brooklyn chiropractor, remarked about the harm that befalls people who spend their leisure time as television spectators. He said that in times past when people suffered from the disease of ‘spectatoritis’ they at least had the exercise of walking into and out of the stadium or the movie theater. But what about us today? “After dinner, too many of us walk only as far as the couch or nearest easy chair. Then we sit and sit, and look and look, and eat and eat! Finally, with eyes bleary, muscles numb and spine sagging, we drag ourselves to bed. . . . Most people need more of the right kind of exercise, and less TV viewing. This includes children as well as adults.”
Participation brings another benefit. It draws you closer to your friends. The mutual pleasure strengthens the bonds of friendship. Also, participation enhances your respect for the ability of others. Engaging in some activity as an amateur helps you to appreciate the skill of those who are experts in it. And when you as a spectator watch these skilled performers in action, your enjoyment is that much greater.
There are many games in which one can participate, such as bowling, golf, basketball, volley ball, pitching horseshoes, tennis, baseball and other sports. Of course, a person would not want to choose a game or play one in such a way that he is likely to hurt himself or others. And Christians need to be careful not to stir up the divisive spirit of competition. (Gal. 5:26) Keeping in mind that it is only a game, and that everyone wants to have fun, will help one to maintain the proper perspective.
Another activity in which you can participate is hiking and camping. Families and groups of friends have found this a most beneficial pastime. Planning and organizing the trip, collecting the necessary gear and provisions, setting up camp, building a fire and cooking over it all contribute to the fun of being outdoors. All involved are drawn closer together. One summer a small group enjoyed this activity for a few days along a hiking trail in the northeastern United States. They had so much fun that, afterward, their hiking experiences were the topic of many conversations.
Music also affords opportunities to participate. For example, if you play a musical instrument, you can join with other musicians and play together. Or you can furnish the musical accompaniment to a group songfest. But even if you do not know how to play an instrument, you have a voice that you can use in singing along with others when the occasion arises. This can be so refreshing!
Attending meetings, too, can be more enjoyable and beneficial if you take advantage of the times when the audience is asked to participate by making comments or answering questions. By your involvement, the meeting is made more interesting for you and others in attendance.
Naturally, there are times that you are alone during hours of leisure. Are there activities in which you can personally participate then?
Participating While Alone
Creative activities that one can engage in while alone can be very stimulating. For example, painting, carving, building items for the home, or making clothing. Such activities can be so engaging that you will find yourself eagerly looking forward to working at them. Do-it-yourself kits are available for furniture, electronic equipment, oil paintings, toys, leather goods and many other crafts. Such are not hard to assemble if you have a little know-how.
One appealing benefit is that these kits save you money, for they are usually cheaper than an assembled piece of goods. Also, if you give the homemade item as a gift, it is so much more appreciated due to the fact that it was made by you. A gift of this kind keeps on giving and reminding the receiver of you much more than would a bought gift.
If you enjoy listening to recorded classical music and can read music, there is a way you can involve yourself more and perhaps increase your enjoyment. How? By following the performance with a printed score of the music. The score alerts your mind to various instruments playing. It can also stimulate your imagination, causing you to visualize the instruments and, perhaps, even the movements of the players.
If you are inexperienced at music reading, start by following piano solo music, then move on to songs, trios, quartets and then full orchestra, perhaps even opera. Many libraries have miniature scores and books that teach score reading.
Also, you can follow records of Bible reading using the translation being featured. Poetry, plays and other literary works on records can be followed in this way. And it is most beneficial, for it can improve your reading and teach you expression, thereby enhancing your speaking ability.
There are also recordings of music with one instrument missing. If you play that instrument well, you can perform the omitted music with the record furnishing the accompaniment. These records are available for piano, violin, flute, clarinet and other instruments.
So there are many things that one can do while alone that can make one’s leisure more fun. But what about the times when one must play the spectator role? How can this be made more satisfying?
Appreciating the Spectator Role
First, it is important to recognize the times when one should be a spectator. For example, if you are at a gathering and the host has invited someone to do something to entertain his guests, then this is the time to watch and listen. Perhaps a guitarist or pianist has been asked to perform. How out of place it would be for anyone to try to gain the limelight or to call for others to participate. This is the time to play the spectator role.
The same applies to attending a meeting where a public talk is being delivered. One would not try to participate in this unless the speaker called for audience participation by asking questions for them to answer. Or one may be watching a demonstration of some activity. To learn about it, one must listen and observe.—Eccl. 3:1, 7.
Naturally, if one attends a sports event or concert, the circumstances force one to be a spectator. And depending on what is being presented, one may or may not find it enjoyable. In view of the general moral breakdown, however, especially in the entertainment world, one needs to be very selective about spectator activities.
This is true, for example, when it comes to television shows and motion pictures. One may view an educational film or television program that highlights the wisdom manifest in creation. Or he may see a fine historical movie or simply some fine lighthearted entertainment. But today many plays and movies feature immorality as something to be accepted, condoned and even glorified. So it is important to be selective if we want our spectator activities to be enjoyable and beneficial.
But for full enjoyment of your leisure time, do not always be a spectator. Remember, it is more fun to participate.