So little unstructured time

The New Yorker once had a single-pane cartoon which depicted two boys walking down a sidewalk. They were wearing baseball hats and had a stack of books under their arms.

One said to the other: “So many toys—so little unstructured time.”

It was a commentary about how busy many children are. Their time is very structured. They are signed-up for so many sports and activities that they don’t have time to play with their own toys.

Or relax. Or turn off their brains. Or get bored. Thinking back on my own childhood, many of the wonderful moments grew out of boredom. Boredom leads to drawing pictures and tree forts and making up a new game with the dog.

I have wondered if “pace” couldn’t also be used as an acronym: a peaceful and calm existence. 

I’m writing this to parents. But also to adults. Granted, some of you are not struggling with this. But some of you are.

In the ancient world—and sometimes in the modern one too—Sabbath was woven into every week. Worship and rest. A sacred reprieve from the rigors of work and sweat. “Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD” (Exodus 35:2). Today, not only do we frequently transgress the idea of worship and rest one day a week, but we deny it to the other six days as well!

When life gets very structured, it’s difficult to un-structure. It begins (a) with an acknowledgement that things are out-of-balance, and (b) with not adding new things when the existing things are already drowning you.

So many toys—so little unstructured time.
So many activities—so little peace of mind.

What if you or someone in your life was missing out on something great—not because they were doing too little, but because they were doing too much?


–The Up Devotional is published five days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on January 30, 2023.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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