9. Àm air Falamh: Time Off

As part of this experiment in managing my time in a more inspiring/balanced way, I’m going through each of the nine areas and describing them so that I really get them secure in my head. Today I am starting with the easiest to define: àm air falamh, time off.

The word falamh means ‘empty,’ but here it does not mean simply ‘devoid of content.’ In English, the word was borrowed and applied to fields that were resting between plantings. This allowed the soil to renew itself and regain minerals and substances necessary to maintain its fertility. Thus, while no crops were being produced, the time was nevertheless of great importance, and ‘fallow’ fields are still found on farms today, often growing plants that actually add nutrients to the soil. An additional phrase of great use is ar falamh. This means literally ‘upon emptiness’ and in modern Scottish Gaelic means ‘away.’ Here it is used for time when you can just stop being present to yourself and others and just be.

Similarly, this roinn supplies time in which we are not obligated to do anything but renew our enthusiasm and joy, whether this means watching a movie, taking a nap or just staring out the window. To be very clear, falamh hours are those in which we do not watch the clock, never make sure that we are ‘on track’ or even pay attention to where we are. As such, these are some of the most important moments of the day as these are the times when we are allowed to just be who we are without worrying about the course that our life is taking. In this capacity, this roinn manifests the original meaning of the word ‘recreation.’

This all means that the bulk of one’s time will be air falamh, unless there is a relatively dire emergency requiring an excessive amount of planning, execution and conscious living,. Sleeping, after all, is about as falamh a time as can be enjoyed, and ideally one should have between eight to ten hours of that. Add to this the hour proper to this roinn and the times when you need to eat lunch, have a coffee break or just chat with a friend, and soon it’s clear that up to half a day may wind up being air falamh; up to twelve or even fifteen hours as the case may be! This still leaves a full nine hours for the remaining arenas and will ensure that there is room to focus properly on each of the other activities.

Naturally enough, there are times when this is not possible, and the modern Western work ethic places the expectation on us to focus our time on either our céilsine or our gairm. It’s important to note then, that there can be considerable overlap between areas,  but that is a post for a different day — probably after I have defined each of the different roinnean

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