When I was seven, time hung heavy in my hands.
Books were rare, especially books that I could understand. Unless it was a Sunday morning, television was parents-only. And since I couldn’t throw a ball properly to save my life, playing with the neighbourhood kids had little appeal – for me or them.
Boredom was the norm. Entertainment, distractions, stimulations were difficult to come by, and prized when they did.
Here’s the problem. They are not prized anymore.
Kids growing up today will not know how jarring this shift is. Their brains have adapted, to an extent. If not yet, then in a generation or two they will. But for us, who grew up starved of distractions and are now deluged with it, both due to easy availability and higher purchasing power, there is the very real risk of intellectual indigestion.
I remember getting a tattered single issue of a comic book from a friend. A single issue! 22 pages. I read it front-to-back, back-to-front, top to bottom, bottom to top. I looked at the pictures until my eyes barfed Batman. I didn’t understand it at all, because it was issue 5 of 7 or some such shit, but by god I read it.
The day a friend passed me his prized collection of 22 Hardy Boys stories, I think I nearly passed out. That’s how excited he was. That his generosity was motivated by the fact that he had pinched the books from the school library and was now scared mattered not.
Now, the problem is reversed, and how. I can’t finish a book for weeks, because there’s so many I want to read at the same time. Movies pile up, and are deleted unseen. We are missing out on incredible things because we are spending so much time trying to decide which incredible thing we will spend our time on.
Here’s the only thing that helps. A calendar. A calendar for your leisure hours seems strange – paradoxical, even, but it’s the only way it works for me. Spend some time making a calendar of what you will watch, read, listen to or play. Assign hours and deadlines. And of course, follow it religiously. Your hippy spirit will bristle at the very concept, but put a sack on its head and tell it that it’s for its own good.
There are just too many incredible things to experience, and only the cold efficiency of an Excel sheet has allowed me enjoy them the way I used to…in those days when all I had was time, and a hankering for brain food.