Allotrion is defined as an idle pursuit that distracts from serious responsibilities. I ran across the word in a New York Times Book Review* and it immediately made me think of all the tasks I had on my to-do list, both for the day and for the balance of my life.

It triggered a series of “how good do we have to be” thoughts. How much should I give back? How much of my energy should go into charity and contribution versus relaxation and comfort? And what works? What is just futile spinning-my-wheels effort, just melting the tip of the iceberg?

Closing quotes:

“Society can not progress unless each citizen makes his contribution and performs his duties.” — Hindu sacred text “Atharva Veda”

“To Love
To Live
To Learn
To Leave a Legacy” — Stephen R. Covey’s 4 basic human needs

“It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” — Ethel Percy Andrus

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” — Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

* Sunday, July 24, 2011, “Sigmund Freud’s Cocaine Years,” by Sherwin Nuland, a review of “An Anatomy of Addiction, Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine,” by Howard Markel. “As Freud wrote almost three decades later, ‘the study on coca was an allotrion’—an idle pursuit that distracts from serious responsibilities—‘which I was eager to conclude.’”

P.S.: A Google search of allotrion produced no meaningful hits other than ads.