TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR
I say that too often, I think. It’s become a go-to phrase for me that slips too easily and mindlessly into the conversation.
“Time off for good behavior” is usually deployed by me when someone indicates that they’re not going to do something … or that they’re going to do something “entertaining” rather than workaday routine … or that they’re actually giving themselves just that – time off that they feel/know they’ve deservedly earned.
With a common-usage link to the idea of incarceration for some kind of wrongdoing, I guess it’s got a bit of a snarky tone to it.
One reading: It’s as if I’m implying the break-taker is maybe not quite as deserving as they think they are; as if by doing what’s expected of them they’ve gained some privilege.
- College student off for a spring-break fling? “Ah, been a tough semester, huh?” sez Geoff. “Time off for good behavior.”
- Networking buddy who asks me to sub at morning breakfast while she heads out for her industry’s annual Las Vegas gathering? “Happy to do it,” sez I. “Enjoy your time off for good behavior.”
- Working spouse neighbors who give you the heads up that they’re taking their kids to the Florida theme park experience. Yup. Imagining the air travel and transportation and standing in lines with kids in tow, I drop the phrase again.
But you know what? That’s unfair. Judgmental. And just plain wrong (most of the time).
It’s suddenly obvious to me that, even if dispensed with a smile and expressed with interest in the time-off plans, this note of disapproving approval is rooted perhaps in some bit of envy, or jealousy or desire to be on the partaking side of the equation versus being stuck here in the daily humdrum.
TGIM ACTION IDEA: You deserve a break today. Not to give too much to that old McDonald’s sales pitch, everyone who makes an honest effort, no matter how small or immediately effective, has earned some respite.
Ideally, we all do. And a brief fast-food-sized interlude in the daily routine is just a beginning. Even the dominant guideline of the religious beliefs of many remarks that, on the seventh day, the creator of the world we dwell in rested.
That ought to be a good clue to guide our own behavior.
From a more secular and pragmatic view: No doubt our human batteries need to be routinely and regularly recharged.
Hardworking English banker, politician, naturalist and archaeologist John Lubbock (1834-1913) certainly knew that.
Although his scientific work was an avocation, Lubbock discovered the first fossil remains of musk-ox in England (1855), and undertook archaeological work identifying prehistoric cultures. As a naturalist and friend and advocate of Charles Darwin, he studied insect vision and color sense. He published a number of books on natural history and primitive man. He coined the terms Neolithic and Paleolithic.
In 1870, he became a member of Parliament. The legislation he initiated included the Bank Holidays Act (1871) and the Ancient Monuments Act (1882) and the Shop Hours Act (1886). He became 1st Baron Avebury when he was made a peer in 1900.
And, in addition to his work/ life example, he gave us many useful guidelines for living, such as this nicely depicted one from the 1920 collection in the Volume of Contentment we’ve been featuring:
In a similar spirit Lord Avebury also shared these thoughts:
“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”
“Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.”
“If we are ever in doubt what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.”
“We often hear of people breaking down from overwork, but in nine cases out of ten they are really suffering from worry or anxiety.”
“In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is wanting.”
“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”
“When we have done our best, we should wait the result in peace.”
“Your character will be what you yourself choose to make it.”
And speaking of character: Here’s my personal Spring Break –
TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: I apologize to those I have pestered with my “Time off for good behavior” glibness. To have had your effort at all belittled is unfair. I really do wish you happy interludes to your routine.
Now I think I’ll give myself some time off for good behavior.
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P.S. And speaking nearly directly to the incarceration premise of “Time off for good behavior,” Lubbock said: “The whole value of solitude depends upon oneself; it may be a sanctuary or a prison, a haven of repose or a place of punishment, a heaven or a hell, as we ourselves make it.”