I like books. I like that I can stop reading at any time and pick up again where I left off at my leisure. People would hate to watch a movie with me. I’ll stop and go run a few errands, clean up around the apartment, anything to take a break from sitting in front of the TV. Sometimes I even wait until the next day to finish what I’m watching. I have long since given up on going to the movies unless it is for something I find incredibly interesting that I must go see it. And even some of those I come out of wishing I had waited. I used to come out of a movie theater rather quiet after seeing something far less than spectacular for a fear of dumping on someone else ‘s perfectly fine viewing experience but then I would inevitably get asked what I thought of a movie and my mind instantly goes into critique mode. Again, not wanting to offend anyone, I would tone it back a bit but still receive defensive responses of “it was okay”, “fine”, or, most common, “it was decent”. Well I would rather spend two hours doing something absolutely astounding instead of something decent. I would even settle for something enjoyable than something decent. I hear the word decent and I think tolerable, not too bad, but nowhere near great. Needless to say, I don’t gout out to the movies much anymore. Unless it is for something I find so incredibly interesting.
As a kid I would read all the time. I never wanted to put my books down, I didn’t want to get up from in front of the TV, and later, the computer. I wanted my mind to be occupied, lost in some story much more exciting than my dull existence. I don’t think I recognized it at the time but I was filling my time with distractions. Nothing was really wrong with my life but I wasn’t making much of it either. It was a decent. So instead of living my life as a story that I could steer I sought out stories in TV shows, movies, and books because, let’s be honest here, the further adventures of Luke Skywalker were far more interesting than my schoolwork. I would read books because the characters I liked in movies mentioned them, I would watch TV shows that I knew people talked about, and I would choose movies that had some significance to the kind of person I wanted people to see me as. And I would force some sort of enjoyment out of them. Even the mediocre ones. There is an episode of NewsRadio (arguably one of the funniest sitcoms of all time) where Phil Hartman’s character reads a review of his on air performance which is rated as “adequate”. He then spends the rest of the episode boasting in his “adequacivity” hoping to convince everyone that the word means something more. Much like Bill McNeal I pressed onward to convince myself that things were far more than adequate. I wanted to justify how I spent my time.
As I’ve grown older I have come to value my time over many things, even money. I would much rather waste my money than waste my time and I can’t be alone in this, those of us that have full time jobs and passions that demand even more time; those of us working our way through school while trying to maintain social lives, relationships, and faith; those of us starting families or expanded them; any combination of these. Our time is precious yet we still waste it on distractions. Sometimes I don’t want to work on the next chapter. I didn’t want to do my homework. I wanted to drown out the drama of my personal life. I wanted to escape. And there’s nothing wrong with a little of that. Alleviating the pressure can keep us from breaking down and completely losing our minds but when it halts our growth we need to take a serious step back and take a look at what we are doing with our lives. Are we wasting our time? Are we hiding in the comfort of other people’s stories whether it be in books, TV, movies, video games, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or the number of other time wasters the internet has become? Or are we just taking a break before we move on? I have my downtime, my entertainment, my pleasures but it’s that balance between work and play that we must first obtain then sustain to keep our dreams alive, our lives in check, and our future’s in sight.