I have a secret: I listen to The Modern Scholar audiobooks. You can check them out from many local libraries. Most of their subjects are on CD media (older selections may be cassette tape-based; I kid you not) now, so if you have a CD player in your car, you can learn while you drive. That’s what I have been doing, and it is a bit relaxing. These audio books are really just recorded lectures, more or less. And it is a way to learn something you may not normally learn in the course of your day.
One of the books (lectures?) I heard recently was called A History of Ancient Sparta. I thought the ancient Spartans were interesting. I mean, in school, they said that the men would go and fight the wars, and the women stayed home, raising kids and making all governing decisions. Sounds good to me. Well, this lecture series really smashes my 7th grade image of this culture.
I learned lots about the culture – I still have a lecture to go, which translates to three trips to the grocery, and a longer trip up the interstate, I suppose.
One of the things I was thinking about today dealt with how its citizens worked out. The Spartans were very opposed to being fat – its citizens worked out year-round, the men basically needing to be fit to fight. There is some evidence that some workouts were nude. Adolescent girls worked out nude, and they were encouraged to make fun of overweight adolescent boys. It seems to have motivated the boys to get fitter, the whole point of the public jibes.
In middle school, I enjoyed physical education in school, but I was quick to avoid any after-school sports. I did not want the jock designation – hey, I was a kid, and that seemed important at the time. Anyway, if I lived in ancient Sparta, it would have been fun to work out and poke fun at the boys.
More than anything, it reminds me even in ancient times (about 500 BCE), the Spartans had people who procrastinated. I really think this “putting things off” really limits our happiness. Or our productivity. Or both.
Someone I used to read (Carrie Ryan, a NY Times bestselling author, even uses a derivation of the word ‘procrastination’ in the title of her blog.
I am not sure I will start writing a blog again, but I am starting to write.