For some strange reason, when I moved back to California last year, I had this strange idea that I’d end up bored and not have much to do. Talk about delusional! I’m not sure where that thought even came from considering the fact I was moving back home to where many friends and all my family lived. Spending time with those people could conceivably consume all my time. In any case, lately*, I’ve started to realize I’m so busy I feel like I need to schedule recreation times.
I’ll be the first to admit, part of my problem comes from the fact I have so many different wide-ranging interests which I’d like to devote time towards. I love to read, watch movies and TV, play Xbox , Wii, and computer games, World of Warcraft**. I need time to explore my many artistic endeavors: painting, drawing, crafting, and more. I spend lots of time keeping up with internet/gaming/technology culture. And then of course there are the plans I make with many different friends (brunch, happy hour, movies, dinners, etc.) and the family gatherings and dinners. It’s no wonder I haven’t really devoted much time and/or effort into trying to date.
I’ve started to feel the need to schedule my different recreational interests just to make sure I get a chance to partake in all of them. After all, let’s think about this from a purely mathematical aspect. There are 24 hours in the day (168 in the week). I am typically a much happier person when I have at least 8 hours sleep (usually it’s more like 9, but for the sake of argument in this exercise I’ll use conservative estimates). I spend 8.5 hours at work and an hour to an hour and a half driving to and from work Monday through Friday. Then of course there is the hour long ritual (potentially longer than an hour depending on where I’m going and what I have to do, but again – conservative estimates) every morning of getting ready (for either work or play). While I’ve been lazy of late, a normal week would also include at least four visits to the gym (sometimes 5 or 6). My gym trips can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how stressed and/or motivated I am. For argument’s sake (conservative side), let’s include four 1-hour trips to the gym in one week. Let’s also remember, there’s dinner and the nightly ritual of getting ready to go to bed (you know; brushing teeth, flossing, etc ). Let’s factor in an hour daily for all that. So, where are we?
According to my calculations, all the normal, weekly, required activities utilize 121.5 hours of the week (that’s almost three-quarters, 72.3% to be exact). And as you can see in the table above, the hours in the work week are almost entirely consumed. And this is with conservative estimates and not even factoring in things like folding and putting away clothes, doing dishes, running errands, grocery shopping and other random tasks.
According to my rough estimations, I have 46.5 hours to devote to recreation. I love being able to spend time with my friends and family. But that time is usually spent participating in activities that typically don’t incorporate a lot of the things I’d like to be spending time doing (playing video games, reading, and creating art – or internet communications like this blog). I haven’t even gotten in to the fact that I have fairly regular gigs house-sitting and have started to volunteer occasionally for the Crocker Art Museum. Not to mention, I’d like to start taking classes to further pursue some of my interests. I feel like I need to start designating specific nights for specific activities (Monday is for Xbox, Tuesday is for art, Wednesday is for television/movies, etc).
The problem with this scheme is that suddenly my “free-time” is now scheduled and defined. I would only have specific days and times available for friends and family. And what happens when I get particularly involved in a project? Do I just have to leave it until the next scheduled time? Or do I start re-arranging? And what about when I discover new interests? How am I supposed to fit those into the schedule? I’m reminded of a tweet from Veronica Belmont. She said “My schedule is starting to feel like a really intense game of Jenga. One block gets moved wrong, and the whole thing falls apart.”
So, is recreation still recreation if it’s scheduled? I guess it depends on your definition of recreation. Dictionary.com defines recreation “refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise, or the like; a pastime, diversion, exercise, or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment; or the act of creating anew.” And another defines recreation as “activity done for enjoyment when one is not working; the action or process of creating something again.” Scheduling my recreation does not make the activity less enjoyable (theoretically at least), so that seems to mean its okay. But what about the other definition?
Nowadays, when most people think of recreation (either the word or as an activity), they are not focusing on the idea of re-creating. I, myself, had forgotten about this other meaning. It wasn’t until I happened to catch an episode of Joan of Arcadia (entitled “Recreation” no less) that I was reminded. In this episode Joan is told by God to have a party. Towards to end of the episode God reminds Joan of this other meaning of the word recreation. The following are excerpts from that conversation:
Well, let’s break the word down, shall we? Re-create. To create…again. Begin again. To start over. People need to do that. Work is fine, but… every now and then, you’ve gotta take a break and re-create.
Remember, recreation isn’t about relaxing. It’s about re-defining
Whatever’s become undefined.
At this point, I want to say that all of my recreation, scheduled or otherwise, is trying to help me re-define (or perhaps better define) who I am. And maybe by scheduling it, I can focus my time and decide where to devote more energy too.
Or I’ll just get frustrated because I love everything. Maybe if I stop sleeping….?
* This realization did begin to materialize a few months before the holiday season, but admittedly the “problems” have become even more pronounced. And I say “problems”, because let’s face it having lots of friends and things to do that make you happy is a happy problem.
**Yes, I know WoW is a computer game, but considering the time sink it can be, I felt it deserved its own mention. And as a side note, I’ll be MIA for awhile because of Cataclysm!