Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nothing is the New Something

Except for the worker bees among us, each new morning brings the same question: What should I do today? For those who are employed the question is answered for them, which is why so many people choose to work full time even if they don't need the money. This also explains the popularity of volunteering among retirees and women of the leisure class married to (or divorced from) men who bring home a paycheck. Part of it is the ongoing quest to amuse ourselves (a.k.a. pass the time), but the other part, almost bigger, is the need to tell other people what we did and have them find us interesting. Counter to this, honestly, some days all I want to do is stare into space.

Not for the whole day, of course -- there's always a cat to be fed and laundry to be washed -- but certainly for several hours at a stretch. Sadly, our society frowns upon this rejuvenating activity unless it is labeled meditation, and then it is applauded. Yet it's perfectly acceptable -- and in fact considered "cool" and "with it" -- to spend countless hours staring at a television or computer screen binge-watching episodes of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, neither of which I have seen but have been urged to watch by almost everyone I know. This behavior, once berated as time-wasting, is now a popular activity fully condoned and embraced by the masses. Nobody finds it the least bit odd, and in fact it will likely net you a congratulatory high-five.

Clearly, absorbing the fictional thoughts of others is deemed more valuable than listening to your own inner voice. If you're clever, you can use this fact to your advantage: The next time you're trapped in a boring conversation with a compulsive talker and you desperately want out, just mention you spent the weekend "binge-staring at the wall." It'll stop them cold.

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