A Lack of Lazy Sundays…

Monday, April 27th, 2009 | Cycling, Entertainment

…in which I talk about my complete lack of genuine “free” time.

I’m not going to say that I don’t have an adequate amount of time away from work. I work a 40 hour week, like most people in my tax bracket, and on top of that, I actually eat lunch on the clock so I can maximize my time and go home an hour early. I’m probably coming out ahead of a lot of people, and yet I still feel like I’m fighting for time every day, every week.

Part of the problem, of course, is my addiction to TV. I’ve got over 10 hours of TV a week that I need to watch. Though, admittedly, between mediocre shows and cancellations, that number seems to be reducing rapidly. Still, I can’t seem to save myself from at least two hours of TV an evening. I’ve read, again and again, that people who avoid TV completely are in general happier, healthier, and more productive. To that I have to say “Duh!” Whoever did that research could probably prove that eating less meat will make you thinner, and smoking less will save you from lung cancer. TV watching is passive, lazy, and non-productive. It is a simple step in logic to determine that spending countless hours a week doing something completely anti-productive, watching other people achieve accomplishment after accomplishment would leave you with a bit of a sense of inferiority. And yet, with all this in my mind, I am too enamored by the escape into story, the perfectly balanced conflict and resolution in 20-40 minutes.

We love to spend time with our friends and never feel like we do it enough, but truth be told, we are probably already maximizing our time with them. Between movie nights, game nights, cultural events and so forth, we’re going out or having people come over at least a couple times a week. When I think about it, it occurs to me that the reason it feels like we don’t spend enough time with them is because of two major factors. We can’t always get our schedules to agree. We’re all busy people and even trying to schedule time to get together is often virtually impossible. Even our regularly scheduled events are often surprisingly small, or even entirely uneventful. Alternately, often when we get together, we’re either all too tired, or too distracted to really appreciate the time we have. Sometimes it feels like we’re not getting quality time and we’re just together out of obligation. It’s a hard place to be when you love the people you’re with, but you know in the back of your head, you’re not appreciating that time the way you had hoped.

I also like to play video games, which unfortunately, I’ve found much less time to do lately. Honestly, I actually prefer video games to TV for some of the reasons that TV is credited with denying people happiness. Video games are interactive (especially when you play with other people). You are, in part, responsible for the progression of the story and the livelihood of the protagonist. You are not passively watching a story unfold, you are driving it. Additionally, you actually accomplish something in the end. You defeat the antagonists, you achieve the story goals, you complete the adventure. I’ve read some studies recently on how video games are actually preferred and encouraged by pediatric and child development professionals. Not only do the children develop manual dexterity and problem solving skills, it’s a lot harder to eat an entire bag of Cheetos with a controller in your hand. So while playing outside is still the optimal choice for children, given the choice between passively watching TV and actively playing a video game, the better option is obvious. I like that Ansel is intrigued by the controller and how it effects the stuff on the screen. He’s still too little to understand how it all relates, but he knows there’s a relationship. Even still, instead of playing games which exclude Heather completely, we watch TV which as a family.

And while Heather and I have time together, with Ansel, we rarely have time to ourselves. She has started riding her bike again, and I’m still riding mine avidly, but we can’t ride together. We have no way, at present, to take Ansel with us, and the opportunity to go out and ride is often simply too spontaneous (i.e.: weather dependent) to plan ahead for a sitter. This weekend, we used our monthly sitting swap with our friends to have a bike date. And while I still failed to write anything this Sunday, which is my new intended plan, we still had a great time. Though, admittedly, Heather got a much more intense workout than I did.

Bike Date RouteBefore the bike ride, I finally finished my new DIY pannier and Heather packed it with food… which caused it to immediately fall off. We strapped it back up with a bungee and were able to head out to the picnic. Aside from the pannier being to close to the pedal (I had to tilt my foot as I pedaled to get past the pack) it all worked fine. We had our picnic of fresh vegetables, hummus, pita and fresh fruit at North Lakes Park and then headed to Beth Marie’s for desert. After a little walk around the square, we headed home again. It was the kind of time we need more of and made me realize what we’d been missing. It made me realize that TV, video games, and even time spent with our dearest friends, were frequently eating up time that Heather and I desperately needed.

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