you pour your life down the rifle spiral

I don’t think too hard about how I spend my time. When I pause to reflect, I have a vague sense that I have been fairly busy, but not terribly productive. A few weeks ago, after playing a game of Hearts with my family, it occurred to me that I could probably find a computer version of it on my laptop. It wasn’t heard to find (right in the folder titled “Games”, as a matter of fact), only I’d never thought to look before.

Within four weeks, I played over 130 games of Hearts, before moving on to FreeCell where I racked up 50 consecutive wins before turning my attention to Spider Solitaire. During a time period when I ought to have been focusing on revision for upcoming exams, I was taking “study breaks” hours in length to play another round of cards against a computer. Yesterday, it hit me: this has absolutely no benefit to me or anyone else. I am not even engaging in an entertaining and relaxing story line, but rather clicking through a series of basic problem solving puzzles which are largely determined by chance. I am accomplishing nothing: my experience and knowledge of the world is not being enhanced, my thinking patterns are not being challenged, I am not strengthening meaningful social ties, and I don’t even feel relaxed when I finish. The one commodity I never feel I have enough of, time, is one I am expending on probably the most pointless exercise I could imagine. And for a second I wondered: is this inevitable? Do I want to stop? Do I really care?
And then I closed my unfinished card game, went to my computers control panel, and disabled all the games which came pre-installed on my computer. Then I took things a step further: I googled a quick extension for Chrome which would allow me to block certain websites during set times of the day, and I told it not to let me on to Facebook except for early in the morning, at lunch, and between 9 and 10 in the evening. I wasn’t sure what the result would be. After all, I have never considered myself to be one of those “addicted to Facebook” people. I don’t even read all my newsfeed anymore. But it occurred to me that it would be a good way to make myself close the window down and not pause to check for new updates every half hour.
I don’t know why I made this rather abrupt decision. As I said, Facebook hasn’t been a problem for me. And really, I’ve only been playing cards for a month. But, I thought, it can’t hurt, and hopefully it will get me more focused on my studies. Maybe I’ll feel more productive and happy with my life if I don’t feel like I’ve been wasting it away. Keep in mind, all this happened yesterday. It’s not like this is the hugest existential crisis I have ever encountered, and really, it’s almost silly expecting any great change as a result. Still, life is full of tiny little moments where you think “today I’m going to change”, and sometimes you have to listen to them. So yesterday, I did. And how has today been?
I haven’t felt this bored in years.
All day, I have been nearly crazy with boredom. I was so desperate for something to distract me, that I googled for online sudokus to try to alleviate the tedium, until I realized I might as well just re-enable all the card games again (I didn’t.) I needed something, anything, to keep me from doing my work. But on the plus side, I actually DID read my entire newsfeed when I first got up, which was kind of nice. I made some dessert as a test run for a big dinner event coming up, which I’d been meaning to do all week. And now I’ve written my first blog post in… well, a while. Someone asked me before all this came up what I do with my time, and even then I had this nagging sense that I didn’t spend it well. I just couldn’t come up with a good answer. Today, I was wondering what I do when I’m not on Facebook or playing cards, what do I DO? In the silence which followed, I came to a realization: I listen to music. And I study my Russian.
And here’s what I’ve learned: boredom isn’t a bad thing. Boredom is that realization that you have time to spare. It is that sense which says “I am avoiding doing something I should, but it isn’t urgent yet, so I don’t have to start.” I would like to find a way to turn boredom into a catalyzing force, into something which reminds me: when you feel this way, it’s time to stop procrastinating. Get a move on.
Obviously, I still need proper study breaks. We all need “pointless” things to do to relax. I can always turn to Zelda when I need a break, or watch another 10 minute segment of “David Copperfield” on youtube. I don’t read: novels are too absorbing for during the day. But maybe I can start giving myself a half hour to blog again. That might be nice, too.

One thought on “you pour your life down the rifle spiral

  1. And really, this seems like one of your most interesting posts, by far. Especially for me anyway – with all the things to take care of getting married, getting a house, working full-time, and trying to find time for friends and family before everything changes, I very seldom feel like I have any time to just do something I want to do. Writing? No. Reading? No. Gaming? No. I felt guilty watching some of the Yankees game the other night… I feel like I used to be very productive in my free time, and now I have so little, I can bring myself to be productive with it. I'll be interested to see how married life winds up turning out, especially in regards to time. Most of all, all the business has had me wondering: what is worth while?

    What is actually worth your time?

    Productivity is great, but I'm about to leave work, and rather than try to squeeze something in before Katie's graduation, I'm just gonna chill and take it easy, and I expect it's gonna be good. I'll do some hard thinking probably.


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