I’m writing this on a bank holiday – one of those infrequent occasions that most people look forward to with a degree of relish, but which for as long as I can remember I have personally found something of a drag, if not something that I don’t look forward to at all. Who doesn’t like bank holidays, you might ask… A day off work, time to chill and relax, and generally make the most of the opportunity? Well, me actually.
After much reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m something of a workaholic. Not that I have any problem with switching off the phone, ignoring the emails and completely putting work to the back of my mind when I’m off the clock; that isn’t my problem. Where I’m not so good is taking a proper break – for many years, (to the irritation of my managers), I’ve not taken my full allowance of annual leave, at times only taking half the days I should be enjoying over the course of a year – it’s something that simply doesn’t cross my mind and the only time I’m likely to take a week off is when I’m told I have to, or that nagging feeling that I really am about to hit the overwork wall starts niggling me. Even then, I often waste the opportunity, rarely doing much that’s productive or worthwhile and spending an awful lot of that hard-earned free time thinking “I really should be doing something”, then getting annoyed with myself when I’m faced with the realisation I’ve just effectively wasted a week off. In the past, when I’ve not had only my own interests to consider, I’ve found myself immersed in horrendous arguments, simply because ‘you can never decide what to do when we have the day off!’
And that’s just the occasions when I’m able to take time off when I pretty much want to – bank holidays are far worse: They feel like an imposition, forced upon me, with no choice but to comply. I find myself faced with the prospect of a random empty day, during which I know I’ll do nothing worthwhile, won’t go anywhere – why bother, everyone’s on holiday – and will feel it’s been a complete waste of a day.
That is, until fairly recently, when the realisation has started to dawn that there’s nothing actually that wrong with spending a day doing nothing; that pottering about, randomly re-arranging ornaments, drinking a million cups of tea, and watching rubbish Youtube compilation videos is an OK thing to do, and not something about which one should beat oneself up over. I suppose I’ve always been the sort of person for whom inactivity and idleness feels wrong, I need to be doing ‘things’, and when there’s nothing to be done and nowhere that needs to be gone, I get nervous and fidgety… it’s one of the very few things in life than can cause me to feel stressed. However, that feeling is starting to fade and today I feel far more comfortable about being busy doing nothing.
Maybe it’s indicative of the way of life that many of us are compelled to lead, that we feel such a strong need to employ our free time in ways that are worthwhile, almost to the point we have to work at making every last minute count. How many times, for example, has that guilty feeling come upon you after spending ‘far too long’ in SL, that you really should be logging-out and doing something more important and productive? Even worse, how many times have you felt yourself at a loose end inworld, and become annoyed at yourself for not making the most of that time whilst you’re logged in? (No? Must just be me then!)
It’s this latter point that, perversely, I find far easier to deal with than I do faced with a similar situation in RL. Stuck with the prospect of a whole bank holiday stretching out in front of me, I may go into shock, panic-stricken at not having any plans and getting angry with myself for not coming up with any ideas about how to fill the time – however, faced with a couple of hours inworld, and no idea what I can do to make the most of them, I have no problem at all with just hanging around, doing nothing in particular. I may try on a few new clothes, make a half-hearted attempt to tidy up my inventory, throw a few prims around before giving up and deleting them, or even simply just sit around or loiter without intent inworld. It’s odd, but in the one environment that should be super-stimulating and productive, I’m perfectly happy to do naff all, and – to all intents – waste time.
But that’s just fine. If there’s one place that I really don’t want to have to plan, be organised and have to fall into routines and set tasks, it’s that one place that I head off to when that precious time in RL allows me sufficient leeway to escape to the virtual world. It’s a place I don’t have to be doing anything, and that is fine by me.
But I don’t mind
As long as there’s a bed beneath the stars that shine
I’ll be fine
If you give me a minute
A mans got a limit
I cant get a life if your hearts’ not in it
Oasis – The Importance Of Being Idle