So, why am I picking on beer and peanuts? What’s the matter with having a little rest and relaxation? Am I some maniacal slave driver? Do I have a vendetta against fun?
Well, my kids would probably characterize me as a slave driver, or at least a task master from the Old Testament. But that is mostly about homework and chores, and they aren’t old enough to drink beer anyway. So the short answer to “What’s the matter with beer and peanuts” is: nothing. Drinking a beer or two, relaxing while watching a game, taking a pontoon boat ride, spending the afternoon chatting with friends, even sitting on the beach for a week doesn’t bother me at all. Neither does taking a cruise, watching a TV show, reading for pleasure, listening to music or noodling around on the internet. In fact, I have done and regularly do many of these things. “Beer and peanuts” is simply my shorthand for leisure.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with leisure. In fact, having down time is a requirement for health – both physical and mental. If you have ever worked more than 7 days in a row you know the toll it takes on your body, mind, emotions, relationships and grumpiness! We might be able to work without a break for a while, but eventually we will have some kind of breakdown. I have noticed with my kids: every day during the week is filled with school and homework. Saturdays tend to be sports, birthday parties, and jobs around the house. Sunday has church in the morning, and if we fill up the afternoon — Monday is not going to be pretty. The Lord commanded Moses and all the Jews to rest on the seventh day. Apparently we have a need for rest and recovery built into our design. So, once again there is nothing wrong with leisure — nothing wrong with “Beer and Peanuts.*”
Unless that’s all you have. If your whole life, or even much of your life is built on leisure, I’m afraid you will not have much satisfaction. Drinking beer and eating peanuts at 10 in the morning might be fun once. Maybe twice. But can you imagine entering the 5th year of retirement with nothing but beer and peanuts ahead of you? Seriously?
I understand that when you have been grinding away at a job for years or decades there are all kinds of things you would rather be doing. Trips to take, places to visit, people to reconnect with. Sleeping in. I know there are projects undone for years. A car to restore. Picture albums to arrange. A garden to tend and a shop to organize. Unfulfilled dreams and hobbies left behind. I call this “pent up demand.” You have an appetite to do things, but haven’t had the time, energy, or freedom to do them because of your commitments to work and family. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of people who have made the transition from work to retirement. It is so exciting to see people finally have the time to devote to learning jazz guitar, raising chickens, attending golf classes. There is immense satisfaction in playing a small part in helping men and women reach the point where they don’t have to go to their job every day.
And yet. . .at some point the pictures get arranged. The car gets restored or sold. the golf handicap get better and then hits a plateau, and then starts to slowly slide. The cooking class is fun and then it’s done. Look, we have to scratch these itches. If we don’t follow these dreams, we will be frustrated. We have to give them a shot. But the truth is, real satisfaction doesn’t come from a golf handicap, or a neat garden or a well appointed wood shop. Real and lasting satisfaction comes from staying engaged with our lives and other people. It comes from having purpose, meaning, and social contact every day. I want every person to have a rich life. And my observation is that pursuing only leisure actually leads to boredom and unhappiness. The beer and peanuts guidance for a satisfying life includes being intentional about our time and activities. It includes respecting the cycle of work, volunteering and leisure.
Yes, leisure is fine. I love beer. And peanuts. As a reward for a well lived life.
*Of course, some people struggle with addictions to food and alcohol. If that’s you or someone you know, please just substitute “Leisure” everytime I write “beer and peanuts.”