Archive for December 30th, 2009

Time Fillers

Are my time wasters more or less productive than your time wasters?

And what constitutes a time waster versus worthwhile time filler?

I think of this question as I look forward to reading more books in 2010.  And somehow I feel that at the end of next year, people will look at me more approvingly if I say “I read 50 books this year” rather than if I say “I played Civilization on the Playstation 100 times this year.”  And then I thought – why? 

Even if I read some of my non-fiction books and learn a thing or two about meditating, or the history of China, or the nature of dark space…….what value have I really added to my life?  Or anyone else’s?  Should I have spent that time selling things on eBay to make money?  Or volunteering my time at a shelter?  If I didn’t do something really productive, something that other people consider productive, should I hide my head in the sand?

My sister and I used to have board game marathons when we were kids.  We would pull all the board games out of the closet, play them one by one, and pile them up next to us depending on who won which game.  Pretty fun.  Today, kids play Rock Band together or Wii games, and people tend to tsk tsk if they play too long.  Video games.  How unproductive.  But really, aside from the potential issue of eye strain, why is playing video games all day any less admirable than playing board games?  Was it better when Big Sis and I used our imagination to come up with adventures in the back yard?  In the end, weren’t we just playing around?  Is that good enough?

Some people would just roll their eyes at the whole question.  What’s free time?  Of course, if I have more work I’ll be happy to spend my time doing that.  And if there are ever little munchkins in our house, I won’t have to worry about how my time use is being judged.  I’ll just have to worry about how my parenting skills are being judged.  Ha!  I don’t tend to get bored.  But I do often have spare time during the day.  And you know, that’s how I like it.  I spent my time working 50 to 60 hours a week while volunteering my time, going to book clubs, working out at the gym and trying to organize other gatherings.  Other than constantly feeling like I was neglecting something, I didn’t totally hate that.  But, given the opportunity to slow down a little and to choose to lower (or eliminate) outside obligations, I’m happy to do that for a while.  I have a feeling like will be a little less relaxed this next year.  I’ll probably be happy I had time to smell the roses.

So, if I do choose to keep my time to myself, who’s to say what’s less productive?  Playing around on my computer?  Going to the beach to look for whales?  A few hands of poker?  Why do we tend to look at computer and TV mediums as more mind-numbing than anything else?  Maybe I’ve got 50 smut books lined up to numb my brain this next year.  Or maybe 50 books about computers.  Would that be ok?  Why do people care what other people do with their free time anyway?

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