There’s a dark shadow over my life.
It casts itself on everything – what I see, touch, do, think. It’s particularly concerned with how I spend my time. How early I wake up, what I do once I’m up. What I think about when I’m eating breakfast. It envelops my morning routine like a thick fog, enveloping all around it.
It inserts itself in my choices about what to read, what to watch, and always, always, what to do.
It particularly likes to get its hands on thoughts around leisure. Even on the weekend the shadow shows up – maybe even darker, more demanding than other days. It drapes itself over my bed as soon as I open my eyes Saturday morning. Sundays are no better.
This shadow is a demand – a demand for progress, a demand for value, a demand for usefulness. It permeates everything around me. And it makes it hard to do things like write, just to write. Now I have to write useful things. Things that other people might find interesting, or valuable, or thought provoking. Or things that might make me think more clearly. Or things that will just make me a better writer, for some long term, as-yet-not-foreseen purpose.
It’s not just writing that gets ruined. Watching TV? That has to have some deeper value – some learning or insight. Books need to be deep and philosophical, or maybe they need to be self help books, or best of all, books to help me succeed at work. Exercise has to be as efficient and impactful as possible. Can’t just run slowly because I feel like it. I’ve got to be on a plan, perfectly prescribed, and backed up by science. Or people who sound like they could like, know some science. If I’m going to commit to ‘leisure’, fine, but activities should be carefully planned to maximize said leisure, thus ensuring that essential-non-productive time is kept to a minimum.
This shadow is everywhere. Its presence dominates the lives of myself and the people around me. I don’t know if I can stop that, I’m not at all sure I want to. Still, a little rebellion is good, to keep things on balance. Finding a little extra time to do something without greater value (a distraction, maybe) isn’t quite enough – to rebel, you’ve got to make sure it’s clear that this is no accident, not a slip up, but an act, a statement, defiance.
What better way to assert oneself as an agent in control of his faculties than to do something that no one could possibly argue in favor of. Learn how to find water using a divining rod. Binge watch an entire reality TV series. Learn something – but make it something so esoteric that no one can possibly make an argument that it will be useful to you professionally or personally.
Just try, for a bit, being purposefully, aggressively, useless.