Small-scale regrets

These days, I’m not up past midnight very often. Even on the weekends.

But tonight, I can’t seem to be able to get to sleep. Maybe it was the Coke Zero I had during dinner, or maybe it’s because of the thoughts meandering through my head.

Free time

Remember back in grade school, after you got your work done, and the teacher gave you free time? It was always such a blessing. To get to do what you wanted to do. I’d spend the last few minutes of the class period reading a book, usually.

Or, during semester finals, I’d meet whatever friends were off the same time as me in the Commons (that’s what we called the cafeteria). We’d sit around, shoot the shit, talk some shit, and play cards. Nowadays, I bet the kids bury their faces in their phones and ignore each other. Pure speculation. And I have no desire to prove or disprove it.

I had some free time this past Friday and Saturday. I got to take the afternoon off from work Friday (one of the very few times being called a “non-essential employee” isn’t a slap in the face). Lacey and the boys already headed down to see her mom and the boys were spending the night. So I had about five hours to kill. I also had most of Saturday morning and afternoon to myself.

As I drove home Friday at noon, I eagerly went over the list of all the things I wanted to do. I could get some practice on my guitar. Take a nap, maybe. Go get some exercise. Watch just a little bit of TV. Hell, I could have done a cleverly crafted combination of all of those things.

I even borrowed a book from a coworker. I could have read through some of it during my free time.

Could have < Did

I figured you have already guessed by my tone that I did none of the activities I set out to do. Well, I did watch TV, but not in moderation (on the plus side, I’m nearly all caught up on “Better Call Saul”).

I played some crappy, free games on my PS4. Watched several episodes of “How It’s Made.” Watched “Rogue One” again (fell asleep through about half of it).

All the while, during my binge watching, video game playing, and pigging out on whatever was in the fridge, I’d tell myself, “After this episode, I’ll pick up that guitar.” Or I’d read that book. Or get a bit of exercise.

But I didn’t.

Old habits, perhaps?

This pattern of behavior is nothing new. I remember a few years ago, perhaps in 2012 or ’13, I was up late watching “Frasier.” I don’t recall the exact episode I was watching then, but I had to have seen it at least a dozen times.

And, seemingly from nowhere, a thought surfaced in my mind, Why do you do this? Why do you watch the same things over and over? 

The best answer I could come up with is that I didn’t have to expend any effort. I was comfortable watching something familiar. I didn’t even laugh when the laugh track told me to. Nowadays, it seems that even with television shows, you’ve got to make some kind of commitment. Some effort must be used to intelligently watch something.

Like “Game of Thrones.” You’ve got to really pay attention when you’re watching it. And I don’t know how those who haven’t read the books keep up. Between you and me, I have to get Lacey up to speed from time to time.

Lack of effort = comfort?

I can’t conclude that I wasted my “free” time. I could have, no, should have, spent it more wisely. On any one of the activities I mentioned. But it was my time, knowingly wasted.

If we’re just here on this Earth to fart around, as Vonnegut said, then I suppose I did the right thing no matter what.

The guitar will be there tomorrow. And the book. The time for exercise. All of the more seemingly worthwhile hobbies that perhaps a better version of me should pursue.

All I can really conclude is that I spent time doing stuff I enjoy doing, in a quiet house. How often can a guy with two boys say that?

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