I have a confession to make: I find myself with oodles of free time these days (never-home teenager, self-sufficient spouse, and out on workers’ comp), and… I am mostly wasting it. Yes, I have turned into one of those “people with too much free time.” Fortunately I have not yet taken to dressing up my pets and posting their pictures online. Unfortunately, I’m not doing much of anything, except dealing with doctors, lawyers, and various functionaries, and reading*. I am such a slug. I’m not even volunteering at the soup kitchen because it hurts my hands.
A while ago I learned about myself that I used to believe I “didn’t have time” to do things that, in reality, I just really didn’t want to do. There will never be enough available hours for me to, say, dress in character for a book group meeting. I have friends who rarely have enough time to check their email, but they make chairs out of soup cans, or clearly remember every bit of every one of Fred Astaire’s movies because they re-watch them regularly. Priorities, right?
I know that in the past I have longed for stretches of free time to do “X” but for the life of me I am having trouble remembering what X was (except, of course, uninterrupted reading). Isn’t that bizarre??
So I have an assignment for all you busy and productive people: I would like you fantasize about being in my position and ask yourselves, If only I didn’t have to do [insert chore/responsibility here], I could do [fantastically wonderful activity]. Remind me of all the lofty and not-so-lofty ways I should be spending my free time. I have a few restrictions (e.g., can’t drive very far; can’t stand very long; can’t be in the sun; can’t do much with my hands), so fantasies that don’t include any of those things are especially welcome.
But you can also just use this diary to dream for a moment about what it would be like. What would you do if all your basic needs were met, and you could do anything you wanted? What kind of volunteering would float your boat? Would you write the Great American Novel? Plan a wonderful vacation? Catch up on correspondence? Perfect your breast stroke? Head up a local political chapter? Learn to play an instrument? Put by enough meals in your freezer so you wouldn’t have to cook when your free time ended? Dawdle at the coffee shop on a weekday morning? Open a coffee shop?
It doesn’t have to be anything major. It could be that thing you wistfully think of when you get home from work, before you transition to Mommy — “I really wish I could just X,” or the thing you long to do instead of going back after lunch. It could be the way you would structure your day if you didn’t have napping kids to plan around, or family members to cook for at a certain time. Or it could be a bigger, deferred dream.
So, what are you too busy to do?
* “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry was fantastic. Also enjoyed “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, and “What is the What” by Dave Eggers.