Sunday, June 9, 2013

where do the hours go?

hot spot

When we were in Brazil last fall, we had very few responsibilities. Pretty much all we had to do was eat*, sleep, wash a few dishes, try not to get sunburned on endless hikes or gobbled up by prowling mosquitoes in the night, and amuse our 1 year old companion.  On the surface, it seemed like a lot of people on the island were in the same boat (that pun was so unintentional, but I'm leaving it in because I can't help myself).  This sign at the center of the nearby village was a hot spot for socializing and doing what looked like a whole lot of nothing. I'm sure the people on the island all have obligations and worries of their own, but their constant loitering contributed to my overinflated sense of leisure.

Fast forward about 8 months, and I can barely remember what it felt like to have nothing to do for hours on end. We've been in constant motion since we left for our Brazilian adventure. Yes, everyone is busy. New York is overflwoing with doers. So many opportunities!  So much to do!  I know people that pick up extra hours at work because they're just not sure what to do with free time, but I can't say that I have ever had that problem. I know people that make plans almost every night of the week, but if I have plans 2 days in a row, I feel like my routines (and the resulting functionality of our household) crumble and it takes days to get things back on track.

What I've been trying to do lately is reframe my idea of "free" time because in my head it seems like it should be protracted hours in which I have to figure out what I want to do with myself. But that just isn't happening right now, and won't for the foreseeable future. So I've had to chunk down and try to appreciate increments as small as 15 minutes. Some days I dive right in and spend those 15 minutes practicing my banjo or scanning film negatives or (gasp) writing a blog post.  But a lot of days, I spend those 15 minutes sitting on the couch, resentful and bemoaning how little time I have.  Before I know it, my free time is up, and I have to go finish the dishes or walk the dog or feed the cats or pack my lunch for the next day or this, or that.

And what about friendships?  You can't nurture a relationship with scraps of time, and forget about making new ones.  Well, I guess you can if go virtual, but what I'm craving is 3 dimensional face time.  I used to spend entire weekends visiting friends on a regular basis. Granted, I was single, hated my job, was apathetic toward my living situation, and did not own a dog. But there has to be a way to make time for people, right?

I've been a variety pack of contradictions lately: lonely and craving a network, too possessive of time to use it on anything besides zoning out at home, and too married to routines that make me feel functional to break the cycle. There's no pat resolution to this post. I merely wanted to use a few minutes of my newfound weekend (no more working on weekends!) to share what's been on my mind for awhile.

*Eating was not actually as small a feat as I'm making it in this sentence. To buy groceries, we had to hike 20 minutes down into the village and then hike back up the side of the hill (I don't think it really counts as a mountain, but it was pretty steep in places) with all of our groceries in tow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

get out there

a man with thoughts

I often see the same older Asian man walking in Prospect Park.  He carries a cane and contends with a robotic hitch in his stride.  Last week I went running on a wretched winter day.  At the beginning of my loop around the park, I saw this walking man (not to be confused with crazy walking guy whom I will save for another post).  I was surprised to find my cane-toting acquaintance out on such an unpleasant day, but there he was: hugging the far edge of the drive, bent into the wind, making steady progress.

Some days he carries his cane high off the ground and some days he leans on it for support, but more often than not, he's out there.  Motoring along.