Monday, January 2, 2017

The Use of Time

I’m not a big TV watcher.  I'd rather read, write, or—ahhhh, yes—sleep.  But a couple times a week, when all household stuff is done and the family is busy, TV is nice.  I flop on the couch and lose myself in someone else’s story.  I watch in fifteen or twenty minute segments.  The marvel of television today—DVR and Netflix, for me—means I can stop and start when I’d like; go back and re-watch if I’ve forgotten the story line; or quickly find a better option if a show stops working for me.

I worked through Gilmore Girls and Parenthood this way—both took me about six months, watching in those small increments.  Neither took much emotional energy, but kept me eager for my next chance to watch.  I then went on to Orange is the New Black—I’d loved the book, after all, and had heard great things about the show.

I only got eight episodes in before deciding it was time to move on.  The truth—?  Orange left me a little nauseous with how it depicted human beings—as heartless, psychotic animals.  Apparently I need my television time to be a little less about hatred and a little more about good.

I used to muscle through shows I didn’t enjoy.  I watched movies where whole cities blew up.  Where people got shot; death and hurt and betrayal were main themes; and basic human decency was nonexistant. I used to think it made me a deeper, more complete person to watch things that made me uncomfortable.  More equipped, perhaps, to handle the ugliness of the world. 

Not anymore.  I’ve changed my stance.  The reason?  Time.

I think a lot about time, mostly because it baffles me so.  Time is, by its very definition, static, predictable, and never-changing… but it feels the exact opposite.  It speeds up and slows down in some sort of system that is bizarre and, frankly, unfair.

I’ve written before about how unhappy I was in college.  Miserable, in fact.  While I was there, time was my enemy—I ached for it to hurry up, so the entire ordeal—one I had to endure and complete—would all be over.  There were occasions in which I literally counted minutes.  I kept a calendar on my desk where I painstakingly marked an "X" each time a day passed.  It seemed like an eternity between each one.  

But now, I feel the opposite.  Time frightens me now.  It’s going by way too quickly, and I have no control over its speed.  Hours, days, and weeks just… disappear.  All the things I’ve heard said about time—don’t blink; someday you’ll wake up and it will all be over—are proving to be true. 

And that means I don’t have time to give to a show (or pretty much anything else, for that matter) that doesn’t make me think, make me grow, make me feel better about our world—make me a better person or mother or professional.  I’m much more picky with my time because I’m slowly coming to realize—no, it’s more than realize—it’s understand— really understand—that I’m going to run out of it someday.    

This isn't about hurrying.  At all.  I don't want to cram more in.  Quite the opposite, in fact; I will continue to work to slow down and enjoy the things that take my time.  

And that means I need to avoid things that waste it.

No more Orange for me.  

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