I am working on “30 Days of Shamelessness”, a wonderfully creative exercise in silliness. Or was it an exercise in getting to know yourself? I can’t recall. Either way, they provide 30 ideas for blogs, Facebook statuses, etc. The first three days were a breeze. I watched an uncool tv show, looked like a fool, and ate what I wanted. But Day 4 has turned into a brick wall. For Day 4 I am to “waste time”. But what exactly does that mean? How do you ‘waste time’?
Do I waste time and just not know it? Or have I become mistress of excuses, finding ways to turn what should be ‘wasted time’ into ‘legitimate activities’? For example, at work I answer the phone. That means I have to stay at my desk and wait for the phone to ring. It may ring 5 or 6 times in a row and then sit silent for 10 or 20 minutes or more. I have to stay there, just in case the phone rings. So what do I do between phone calls? Sometimes I check documents to make sure they have been scanned. Sometimes I stuff envelopes. But sometimes there is nothing else I can do other than wait for the next call. I might work a Sudoku puzzle, check out the latest celebrity gossip on Yahoo.com, or check my school website. Sometimes I read the battle.net forums, but their black background makes me a little uneasy. It’s too noticeable, too different from the usual white background of the other websites, and that makes for a red flag. It could indicate to other employees – and the boss – that I might be “goofing off” instead of working. Goofing off definitely counts as wasting time. But what might be considered ‘goofing off’ here is not goofing off at all, when I’m using the information to help me write a short story. Still, I’m not supposed to be writing my own stuff at work, so at work it might be a waste of time, and I don’t do it. Not very often, anyway.
Is it a waste of time to check my school website? Not for me. Since I work at a college, it isn’t goofing off if it helps to keep me informed about what other colleges are doing. And that’s good for my job. Are Sudoku puzzles a waste of time? Not if they keep my mind working. The celebrity gossip could very likely a waste of time. But am I really wasting time, if it keeps me occupied at my desk, and it’s fluffy enough that I can leave it in an instant when the phone rings? I’m not wandering off, chatting with other employees, or missing phone calls. I’m right here where I need to be, ready and waiting for the next click of the phone. Plus it helps me understand what everyone else is talking about, and that makes me a more likeable person. Or so they say.
It seems, then, that I don’t really waste time at work. How about at home? What do I do when I’m not at work? The endless chores that pile up for a single parent absolutely do not qualify as ‘wasting time’, for they must be done or we won’t have a place to live, food to eat, or clean dishes to eat off of. (I could waste time trying to figure out how to rewrite that sentence so it doesn’t end in a preposition, but again, it depends on who’s doing the defining as to whether that would be a waste of time or not.)
Once I get home from work, I usually check my email and Facebook to see if anything interesting is going on, or anything that needs my immediate attention. Not a waste of time, either, if something vital does come up. Then I take a nap. This is a necessity. Since I have lupus, I get tired easily and must get adequate rest or I will not be able to function. Without a nap, I cannot make it legibly through the rest of the day. No wasting time here, either.
After my nap, I often play World of Warcraft. Many people do consider this a waste of time, but again, it depends how you look at it. As a single parent living below poverty level, I don’t have money to go out to movies or restaurants. With lupus, I’m too bloody tired to go out, anyway. So basically, I have no social life. But for $15 a month, I get to ‘see’ other people and talk to someone outside work or my family. It’s a necessary evil for my mental health.
If I’m not playing WoW, I am probably reading (critical to my skills as a writer) or writing (critical to my skills as a reader). There is no way anyone will be able to convince me that either of those is a waste of time because writing is what I do. It’s what I am. It’s how I see and deal with the world. If those are a waste of time, then being me is a waste of time, and I refuse to go there.
The past few weeks, I’ve been watching “Starsky and Hutch” from 7-8 pm. Could this be the way I waste time? I usually eat supper during this time, so I need time to sit down. No, it doesn’t take me an hour to eat. Even if I have to cook first, it rarely takes a full hour. But this is my ‘entertain me’ time, where I don’t have to think or analyze or process what I am doing. When I play WoW, I am actively involved in completing quests, figuring out how to kill bad guys, and trying to think up good comebacks for the bad jokes from other players. When I watch “Starsky and Hutch”, I don’t think, I can just sit back and watch the show. Most people need at least a little of that. Good for mental health. Plus, “Starsky and Hutch” reminds me of when the show first aired, when I was a teenager and still full of possibilities. It helps me remember a me who still had the whole world ahead of me and it gives me hope. Definitely not a waste of time.
So far, it appears that everything I do has a reason, and if it exists for a reason, how can it be a waste of time? Yet how am I to do Day 4 if I can’t find some way to waste time? Maybe it’s a waste of time to try to find a way to waste time. But if I don’t find one, I’ll have to skip Day 4. I would hate to do that. I want to do the whole “30 Days of Shamelessness”. If I leave one day out, I will feel like I’ve cheated.
Oh, wait. Cheating might be considered a waste of time, mightn’t it? I mean, what do I accomplish by cheating? I don’t learn anything. I don’t make myself a better person. I don’t save the planet or the abused animals or the unemployed writers. I don’t want to feel like I’ve let myself down by not doing the whole 30 Days, complete, but I don’t want to cheat, either, for my ‘waste of time’.
Alright, then. Maybe it’s time to give up. I’ve written 1300 words, and I’m no better off than when I started. I might have to skip Day 4. Or maybe, as Don Henley sang: “I know what’s been on your mind. You’re afraid it’s all been wasted time.” I surely don’t want to face that possibility. However…
If it is all a waste of time, then I can do anything I want for Day 4. Now that might work. If I could do anything I want today and call it a waste of time, then, what to do! So many possibilities!
That’s it. For Day 4, I will consider all the possibilities of what I can do in order to waste time. That should be a good waste of time.
Or is it?