Serving the High Plains

Unpaid accomplishments have value

With plenty of time to muse in COVID-19 isolation (not that I didn’t have time as a retiree), I am wondering if social distancing away from jobs and social obligations is giving people a new appreciation of leisure time.

In Tucumcari, you can maintain social distancing and get some fresh air and exercise without compromising the six-foot rule.

I have seen more people out walking than usual since the COVID-19 freeze began. Couples, families, dogs. I see more kids on bikes on otherwise empty streets. I see them because I am outside more, too.

Around Easter, my wife and I wanted to make a pizza and found our local grocery could not keep prepared dough in stock, so we decided to make dough from scratch.

The store didn’t have yeast, either. I blamed a rush to make traditional Easter breads, because more people have more time to make them at home. It turns out yeast is still in short supply because more people are baking, period.

Baking, a time-consuming art, is popular again since people have the time.

Enforced isolation has also allowed time for getting old cars working again, big woodworking projects (hardware and building materials are essential businesses), and long-delayed projects like organizing family photos.

It’s also a time for taking on challenging reading projects. One friend announced he had read Charles Dickens’ entire “Bleak House,” all 880 pages. Another friend was prepared to take another run at David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” a challenging, 1,000-plus-page modern masterpiece.

I just re-read George R.R. Martin’s incomplete “Song of Ice and Fire,” the book series that inspired the “Game of Thrones” television series — great reading that inspired great television.

Noting the satisfaction I have received, and what I’ve heard and seen, I think people are re-discovering that deep satisfaction can be gained from more leisure time.

I wonder if this will persuade people to demand more leisure even after COVID-19’s demise brings us back to the usual grind.

Over the past 40 to 50 years, our resources of time and money for hobbies have been declining. Hobbies that can’t lead to second incomes have taken a slow dive.

Stephanie Buck, writing in “Timeline,” a history website, observed that people once identified themselves with hobbies rather than careers.

Two things happened. First, people lost time and money, and hobbies were put aside unless they could produce income on the side. Then, younger generations decided, more so than their parents, that passions should become careers. More younger adults now make their living with activities once confined to leisure.

I’m wondering if COVID-19 isolation might be showing more people the value of accomplishments without income.

“If the future of work is bliss, we still need to know when to put it down and pick up something else,” Buck wrote, “whether it’s family game night, hockey leagues, or just being with nature — happiness simply for the sake of it.”

Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

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