in search of lost time
October 26, 2006
You may have come across this article on a deluded notion that it is, actually, about something of note. It is, but not in the way that the title might indicate. The title is a joke, you see: a pun on, well, something that I will leave you, the reader, to divine (hint: it has been mentioned here before). The actual focus of this posting is on the curious feeling of emptiness that seems to surround the seemingly attractive notion of a little time off, a break from the normal that permits you to pursue all those pursuits that you’ve been meaning to get around to, but have cast aside in favor of more traditionally important (and time consuming) practices like sleep, work, and more work, school-related and otherwise.
As it so happens, I recently passed just such a break. Looking forward to it with some measure of enthusiasm, I was captivated by the notion that, at long last, I would be able to watch a few films, surf the Interweb (ignore my jargon) for hours on end, and perhaps catch up on some reading. I did all of those things in some form or fashion over those few days, so why am I left feeling like the whole thing was a waste of many potentially productive hours? Why did I end up feeling sluggish for nearly the entire duration, sleeping until noon and lapsing into unconsciousness only in the early hours of the morning, and rising with only a vague notion of what, if anything, went on the previous day?
The problem, I think, is twofold. First, the lack of clear objectives for any sufficiently long space of time is hardly conducive to feelings of achievement (and, more importantly, actual achievement). Schedules, however harrying and however often they induce paroxysms of exhaustion and desires for rest, are an all too necessary facet of life here and now in 2006; those of the sufficiently full variety allow just enough “down time” for decompression and a bout (or three) of pondering without making full-on laziness a legitimate occupation.
Second is the eternal problem of putting off what you really want in favor of the current, passably enjoyable activity. Writing for mr_wizard is an excellent example, as I will, embarrassingly frequently, come across some odd or end that provokes the thought of, “Gee, wouldn’t this be a great thing to write about?” But, I think, there will always be time for that later, “later” being some undefined future point that, sadly, may never come up. On the subject of “the break,” then, the not-so-noble pastime of video gaming (I hang my head as I write this) sucked up large chunks of time, punctuated by infrequent glances at my watch coupled with corresponding thoughts of, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to jump into Proust again, and to do so right now?” Alas, weakness of the will won that round, as it has so many others.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to attend.
–D. S. W.