Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Privilege of Doing Nothing

NOTE: I found this post supremely uninteresting, but hey, that's what happens when you write when you have nothing going on in your life to write about. It's either this or just stop writing like I did for about a month (as some of you kindly pointed out to me). So... yeah. Damned if you do and stuff.

When you're working hard for the money (so hard for it honey) free time is a rare commodity. Oh, to have free time", you say to yourself. "What I would do with it... I would sail the oceans, I would write a symphony, I would find and create meaning in ways I'd never imagined for myself."

And by that, what you really mean is you're going to sit around getting fat and surfing the internet.

Take this weekend, for example. I work almost every Saturday, but even with that egregious injustice I still had an entire day and a half to myself, free of work and all the heinous people and situations that arise there. "This'll be great", I figured. "I'll actually get to spend time with people who make me happy, I'll get to work on that screenplay and use the creative part of my brain. I HAVE SO MUCH TIME!" As you might have guessed, it is now Sunday night and I did no such thing. The small free time I'd built up was extinguished with the ease of blowing out a candle.

Where did it go? What did I do with it? I remember eating a sleeve and a half of almonette cookies, so that definitely happened. And I vaguely recall getting into an argument with one of the cats. The rest of it... like, there wasn't even TV on for me to watch. Normally I burn through most of my time trying to catch up on my TV, but I'm reasonably confident that this was not the case this weekend. What did I do?

What must have happened is that I fell into an internet abyss, refreshing Twitter and Facebook and going from article to article, video to video. Honestly guys, I genuinely don't remember if that's what happened, but I'm going to go ahead and guess since my free time was apparently sucked into a black hole.

My two hopes for the weekend: a) socializing and b) writing? Fail. My friend did text me about going to her friend's birthday on Saturday, but I declined. This would have entailed having to dress up*, a half hour bus ride to Wicker Park, having to pay for alcohol**, going to loud, crowded bars where I'm only going to know like three people anyway and pretending like I'm an extrovert, AND a cab ride home. In short, this was not going to happen. I'm an eighty year old man inside the body of a twenty(ish) year old one - this sounded just. totally. exhausting. I'm burnt out all the time, and this sounded like some major exertion for very little in return.

*'dress up' for me means putting the most minimal effort into trying to look halfway decent
**which as we've established I don't even like all that much

And working on that screenplay? Nope. Didn't do a damn thing. I feel really guilty about it too... I feel like I'm wasting my life, spending every precious second not doing anything meaningful or worthwhile. This morning, I remember getting up, eating lunch, and getting on the computer. It was roughly noon. "This is great... I have eight whole hours until The Good Wife is on, I'll get so much done." And now it's 10:30 and I didn't even make a dent. What's wrong with me?

Is this what working people strive for? Theoretically, you work and you work and you work so you can treat yourself, so you can have the kind of things you want to have. Does this mean what I want is to do nothing? Am I working so I can have the luxury of not working? At a glance, this seems to me to be... how do you say? Ah yes, completely fucking insane. It means all that crap and sweat and inanity is all done in the name of me laying around getting fatter? Really? This was what it was all for? That's why I put up with rude people and stress all day? This is the meaning of life and work? This is what deep down, I really want? Is to be lazy and let my creativity wither away? Now call me crazy... it doesn't really seem worth it.

Maybe for other people, they enjoy their work; they make meaning with their work. And maybe when I'm doing that someday, it'll make sense to do nothing with my free time. After all, if I'm writing at work, I don't have to write when I come home; it's already done! So I can laze around guilt-free knowing I did something worthwhile. That will be a fine day.

But today is not that day.

However, I'd like to point out something I'd forgotten, which is that there is a joy in doing nothing. Maybe it's not just laziness - when you work six days a week, there's a childlike glee in having nothing to do all day. I think I'm definitely selling doing nothing way short, because come on... you know it's fun; I have to admit it. So if it's that glee I'm chasing... and not simply me carving out time to waste away - then it ain't so bad.

Besides, I sat down and wrote this little ditty out? So that's something.

But seriously, screenplay next weekend. This time I mean it?

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