Otium, a Latin abstract term, has a variety of meanings, including leisure time in which a person can enjoy eating, playing, resting, contemplation and academic endeavors. It sometimes, but not always, relates to a time in a person’s retirement after previous service to the public or private sector, opposing “active public life”. Otium can be a temporary time of leisure, that is sporadic. It can have intellectual, virtuous or immoral implications. It originally had the idea of withdrawing from one’s daily business (negotium) or affairs to engage in activities that were considered to be artistically valuable or enlightening (i.e. speaking, writing, philosophy). It had particular meaning to businessmen, diplomats, philosophers and poets.
This is my favorite word of all time for so many reasons. As I reembark on my study of Latin (the little stuff has never left me, but the bigger things I’m afraid have), I am reminded that it takes otium to even conceive of reembarking on such a persuit. I am reminded that to have balance in life, we must not only do “negotium” all day. Rather, we must find moments to just be — to relax or to persue something academic for the sake of knowledge.