We all know how hard it is to manage our time. And then as you get older, you start freaking out about the lack of time. Or a friends dies and you wonder what they left unfinished. Or your own body starts to betray you and you make a bucket list in feverish panic. Or you suddenly realize that deadline is 2 days away and you still haven’t started that project.
On the other end, we do things to take up time, to avoid things. We’ll clean the house rather than work out, run errands instead of clean the house, piddle around on social media rather than write… We’ll find something, anything to do other than what we should be doing, if it somehow seems like a better alternative (although how I sometimes choose cleaning toilets over writing I’m still working on).
My latest avoidance item started innocently. Everywhere I turned I heard nothing but TED Talk this and TED Talk that. “You wanna be inspired? Listen to a TED Talk!”
Fine. Okay. I’ll try one.
A month later my husband casually mentions he’s noticed that my phone is listing a spike in streaming activity on the bill. Not a problem, because I wasn’t getting too close to the threshold for our plan, but given that I had cruised along at near-zero streaming since we first got smart phones, it was a significant bump.
And he waited. Looking at me.
I slouched sheepishly. “I’ve been streaming TED Talks,” I admitted. “But not very often. I try to not do it every day.” I sound like an addict in denial. “Sometimes I won’t even do it for a week.”
He blinked at me. “TED Talks?”
“You have no idea how addicting those are,” I tell him. “You don’t even have to understand the subject the presenter is talking about. They just ooze so much enthusiasm you can’t look away. You just want to sit there and suck up their excitement like some kind of drug.”
The sad thing is I didn’t realize it until I said it. Until I tried to justify it.
And it’s true. You just want to bask in the glow of excitement and enthusiasm and hope that these people radiate during their presentations, even if you don’t really understand what it is they’re talking about (or maybe that’s just me, because I’m nerdy?).
There lies part of my problem. I’m going through some things, and they aren’t things that make one happy. A healthy person, in theory, finds a way to create their own happiness; they don’t lean on another to do that for them.
When you’re unhappy, it’s quite easy to-
- hate everyone because they’re happy and you’re not
- soak up another’s happiness like it’s a premium drug to forget your own unhappiness for a while.
These are not mutually exclusive – you can be addicted to watching one person be happy and despise the next one you see in the same day. Because all humans are mercurial, really, it’s just a matter of degree.
The streaming of TED Talks isn’t the sole symptom of my time loss. As the title of this post implies, there are various and sneaky traps all over the road, and they’re far easier to fall into when you’re down than not.
I recently finished an entry for a short story contest that I hadn’t known I was going to enter until I saw the writing prompt picture. It was easier to write that short than it was to face other issues. Like working on the BIG writing. Or considering my knees. Or cleaning the house, actually looking at why for my unusual shopping sprees for the last year (that I can totally justify), the landscaping, the…
You get the point.
This is not to say that my realization of the traps I let myself get sucked into is now cured.
I’m just back to square one, perhaps with a little more awareness and…
I’m doing it again.