Last night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I googled on my phone “why is watching TV all I want to do” and came upon this blog post about TV addiction.
In it he talks about watching TV from the time he gets home until around midnight, 6+ hours a day, which equates to over three months a year of his life spent watching TV. If I include the time I spend watching youtube videos as TV I’ve probably got that beat.
He talks about meeting a woman, Ellen, who didn’t even own a TV. How he got to know her, and wondered what she did with herself, how she kept from being bored. It was an inspirational blog post about a guy who went from pretty much my current position to living a life with this girl where they watch less than 10 hours of TV a week. I can do more than 10 hours on a single Saturday.
What do they do instead?
I think that is my biggest stumbling block. I just don’t know what I’d do instead… or I do know and struggle to make myself do it (which of course leads to the questions of whether it’s stuff I really want to do if it is so hard making myself do it, which leads down a spiral of self hatred and depression…)
In his blog he talks about changing his entire schedule. He goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up at 4am and has several hours in the morning to be productive and creative. My first thought was “screw that, I’m a night owl” but when I really think about it I have to ask myself…why? What am I doing after 9pm that I can’t do just as easily at 4am? The truth is…absolutely nothing.
I cringe at the idea of getting up at 4 in the morning. Ever since I worked 3rd shift I’ve had trouble ever going to bed before midnight unless I am bored to tears. At the same time my current schedule has me tumbling out of bed about 30 minutes before I have to get in my car and drive to work, and I am always exhausted in the morning. It makes me wonder if getting up at 4 or 5am and having 2-3 hours before I have to leave for work in which I can wake up and be productive might not be a bad idea. And it may also help me when it comes to evening boredom, because there will be less evening in which to be bored.
I’ve never tried getting up that early, never tried to see if the wee hours of the morning might be more productive for me. But still… my mind flees from the very thought of being up that early. Perhaps I will give it a try…
Back to the blog however, he goes on to discuss how he started by writing an inspiring vision of his ideal future self. Naturally, it did not include watching 6+ hours of TV a day. So I thought I’d do the same, write an inspiring future self, and then consider if it’s possible, if it is what I really want… so without further ado…
My Inspiring Future Self:
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams erupts from the cell phone at 4am. Rae hit’s the “stop” button and slowly sits up with a yawn and a stretch. Angel the cat meows, getting up from her spot at the end of the bed and padding over to Rae for a morning scratch behind the ears.
With a yawn, Rae climbs out of bed, grabs her iPad and ear buds and heads to the treadmill, firing up an episode of Doctor Who as she walks. After 40 minutes her FitBit reads a solid 5000 steps. She climbs into the shower, washing away the sweat and getting dressed.
She feeds Angel, cleaning out her water bowl, cleaning her litter box, and making the bed. By 5am she is sitting at her desk, Special K chocolaty mint protein bar in hand. Rae turns on her favorite youtube artist, re-watching a tutorial on hands, and spends the next hour sketching various hand shapes into her sketchbook, attempting over and over an especially difficult pose.
“Hey Siri, play my morning playlist, shuffled” Siri replies in her faux australian accent “playing Morning playlist, shuffled.” While music fills the little room, Rae pulls up her word document and begins tweaking a few paragraphs of her novel. When the alarm goes off at 7am, she saves her progress and goes to pack her lunch for work. Within 15 minutes she is out the door, in her car and on the road.
At work she gets her customary cup of hot cocoa with a bit of coffee and gets to work. She designs a new brochure for her company’s latest product, taking it to the C.E.O. for approval than sending it off to the printers to do up several in time for the coming trade show. At lunch she walks to the nearby park with her iPad and continues work on her novel, or works on a recent sketch of one of the races from her world.
After lunch she returns to work, spending an hour on the phone with a customer looking for the perfect product for his needs. She gets the order processed, finishes up work, and clocks out at 5.
On the way home she goes to her favorite hiking trail, walks for about 20 minutes to her favorite stream-side sketching spot, and works on a sketch of a dead tree she started the previous week. She smiles politely to the couple walking by on the trail, and shows them her sketch when they ask. After a while she heads back to her car and drives home.
By now it’s somewhere around 6:30. She cooks dinner, feeds Angel her dinner, and then takes her iPad outside. She plays a mobile game for a while, then watches an episode of the Walking Dead. Maybe she spends 20 minutes shooting her bow at the target in the back yard, while her phone plays her favorite playlist through a small bluetooth speaker. At 8:30 she climbs into bed and reads for about half an hour before going to sleep.
Replace going for a hike after work with going kayaking, or fishing. Replace 20 minutes of archery practice with some time spent sculpting. Maybe it’s raining, and instead I sit inside and read or sketch, or play with the cat.
This ideal version of a day in my future life has less than 2 hours of TV a day, and even that can be replaced if there are no shows currently being watched. Right after work I could go somewhere to fish, set up my pole and sketch while I wait for a bite. Or I could spend the entire afternoon working on my novel, or getting ready for that week’s D&D game.
It’s a beautiful picture, and while writing it I was really moved to spend a day like that. 10,000 steps, plus a couple episodes of TV, plus some time to sketch, plus some time to shoot my bow, some music playing, all fit into a day, into the same 6 hours of downtime I’d normally spend watching TV.
My ideal self is productive, creative, happy and healthy. Living in her tiny house, still alone but happy. I get a little bit of everything I love in a single day. I don’t overload. I don’t spend every waking moment sketching until I hate it and want to throw my sketchbook in the fire. I don’t burn out. I balance. I get some reading in, I get some drawing in, and I get some activity in. An hour and a half spent hiking could instead be spent writing, drawing, taking an Akido class, practicing archery, sculpting, playing with the cat, kayaking, or playing D&D. It has a good balance of technology (music, youtube, TV, mobile game) and creative ventures (writing, reading, drawing, sculpting).
It feels good, and right, and balanced.
But there are road blocks. I get very uncomfortable at the thought of being on the treadmill and people hearing me (people being my parents). I don’t know why, it’s irrational, they won’t care, or if they do they will be happy to see me getting exercise. Why does it bother me? And at 4am Dad would probably be up and getting ready for work himself. Maybe exercising himself, weight lifting or writing his bike on it’s stand. I really don’t know why the thought of them being aware I am exercising bothers me so much.
Of course I don’t have to do that exactly schedule. I could still go to bed at midnight and exercise after they’ve gone to bed, then get in the shower in the evening instead, after exercising. But I feel like I’d be more productive and have more energy if I did it in the morning.
I am going to try it. I’ve set my alarm for 4am tomorrow. It may not be wise, I’ve got D&D tomorrow and that usually goes until 11pm. I think I will tell them it needs to start ending at 10pm instead. It may also be hard making myself go to bed at 9pm, but at the same time it might be very easy, since if I am trying not to spend all my time on the computer/TV then going to bed early will cut the boredom short.
So we will see how this goes. I’ll get up at 4am tomorrow morning, get on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes, get in the shower, then spend a couple hours writing or something.
I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.