No time for junk pur­suits

The Weekend Australian - Life - - LIFE - @OstrowRuth

“Let’s watch a movie,” said my part­ner. “Sure,” I replied, and we plonked down in front of the screen. The movie was so aw­ful it was like eat­ing junk food.

Af­ter­wards I felt guilty. As a mother, daugh­ter, friend, sib­ling and woman bal­anc­ing three jobs, study and do­mes­tics, I have so much to do, in­clud­ing sleep, that it’s of great mis­ery to me I didn’t just get up and walk away. I think we all go through that.

I had big reader re­sponse to a line in a re­cent col­umn: that we are not time-poor — rather the prob­lem lies in how we use time. Dur­ing down­time, in­stead of do­ing nour­ish­ing things many of us frit­ter the hours away, of­ten in idle pro­cras­ti­na­tion. But it isn’t just avoid­ance that chews into our lives.

I kept a di­ary of all the wasted time to shock my­self. I broke it down for an av­er­age day of, say, 14 hours. Time on tele­phone help­ing a friend through is­sues: 30 min­utes. Time re­ally spent help­ing through is­sues was 10 min­utes; 20 min­utes was de­voted to gos­sip­ing about things we’ve said to each other 100 times — a junk­food con­ver­sa­tion.

There was a petty ar­gu­ment with my part­ner that wasted en­ergy; 30 min­utes of the same repet­i­tive tape, no res­o­lu­tion, get­ting nowhere. Junk-food ar­gu­ing.

Plenty of junk-food surf­ing while work­ing. As in highly for­get­table. A video about where cats re­ally go at night (sweet, but re­ally, Ruth?); pho­tos of houses with zil­lion-dol­lar bath­rooms; story on the stuff peo­ple leave on planes; the dan­ger of flea bites; how badly some celebri­ties have aged (and cos­metic surgery dis­as­ters); a video on scari­est moun­tain walks; a TV re­run of Judge Judy about a bitch-fight in a carpark; Face­book and point­less emails. Elec­tronic rub­bish-food took up over an hour.

With a few more gos­sipy calls and un­nec­es­sary texts, emails and posts, let’s say I wasted about two hours on junk-food life, equiv­a­lent to a full day a week.

I’m not say­ing we need to be se­ri­ous. Heav­ens no. As a he­do­nist, I rec­om­mend gig­gling time, get­ting tipsy, par­ty­ing, schlock films, friend­ship and silli­ness. If it’s joy­ous and helps you un­wind and re­gen­er­ate, go for it. But many of us just flop about not re­ally get­ting nour­ish­ing fun or rest, or bond­ing time with a friend, be­ing cre­ative or feel-good hor­mones.

Rather we’re pro­cras­ti­nat­ing, blob­bing, feel­ing guilty, veg­ging out in front of bad TV; com­plain­ing about kids and part­ners. My In­dian totem name should be “Lolling Bear”.

As I got up from the couch my part­ner quipped: “Well, there’s two hours I’ll never get back again!”

Too aptly spo­ken.


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