Imagine you are ensconced in your tiny, yet comfortable apartment due to a relentless blizzard. Looking outside, you reflect on this wonderful and unexpected snow day that has given you what you desire most, time. What do you do with your day? Slowly, carelessly, a smile emerges on your contented face as your mind drifts into an endless ocean of possibilities for your free time. Life, at this moment, truly is wonderful…
The reality of time is that the older we get, the less we seem to have. As children, we had oodles and oodles of opportunities to explore our endless curiosities. We’d take trips to see where the wild things were, we’d see what lay behind the coats in our closets and, sometimes, we’d even choose our own adventures. We existed in this stagnant universe that was ours for the exploring, our minds always the driver. Life was whatever we wanted it to be. And it was wonderful.
Flash-forward to the present and we are left wondering where all that time has gone. The answer, typically, is work. Be it temporary, academic or career-building, work is king and you are merely the buffoonish jester, ruthlessly dancing your existence away. Family and friends, when you have time for them, serve as wonderful memory capsules that give your life meaning but times with them are few and far between. The king beckons too often.
Everything leads back to those rare moments when, alas, you have unexpected moments to do as you please. Like a character from a Margaret Atwood novel, you break convention and finally do as you feel inclined. You think, you feel, you explore and (probably!) you rest. You harken back to curious child that you were and you try, desperately, to recreate those happy, explorative days.
In your search for true down time, you are immediately drawn to any number of escapisms; but how? The typical exhausted you will turn on the boob tube, or boob cube as it were, as you retire to a semi-conscious state. But not the you that has unexpected time. This version goes back to Maurice Sendak, C.S. Lewis, R.A. Montgomery and Edward Packard. This you wants to be alive in the warm, wonderful words. This brain craves to be set free and go all Calvin over the infinite world of imagination.
A generic tea kettle begins to whistle in the background as you attempt to pick out a novel. Ignoring the silent scream, you hear your iPhone 5s come to life as a work e-mail comes through. Instantly exhausted but quick to respond nonetheless, you hit send on your Mac and soon find yourself surfing the internet. Settling in unconsciously, you browse your normal tabs but you can’t quite pick a site to focus on. Each one, even Linkedin, seems to be chock full of endless content that you feel instantly trapped by as your commitment level diminuendos.
Ironic isn’t it, that in age where time is precious that every website, brand and even friend wants to be a content hub. We exist in a quick, easy world of memes and tweets, and yet, marketers want their clients to be viewed as thought leaders that publish informative, brand-building content. Our individual minds are desperate for figurative playgrounds but constantly we are having recess cancelled in lieu of more “important” content. It is unescapable and, more eerily, necessary.
So, if you can afford to, go with paper. Like the child you were, literally hold a real book and tune out, and turn off, the digital distractions. Embrace the content that lets you explore far off worlds where hours fly by in the blink of an eye. The king will always beckon you back to reality but, at least on occasion, make sure they are calling you back from some imaginary world. Float on kid, float on.