Do you ever exclude yourself from the world? Hole up for awhile and not want to leave the house?
Plug into a video game?
Stick your nose in a book?
Zone out at the Television?
The scary part in this is the tendency to make it a habit. Books are my weakness usually but whether it’s a book, a game or a tv show, the temptation to continue reading, playing or watching eats up hours of time without conscious thought. It’s a time void, an abyss that threatens to make us all lonely hermits.
And it’s the enemy when you want to accomplish something. Now, don’t get me wrong, these activities are not bad in and of themselves. They offer escape in a world that increasingly throws out a constant hive of activity demanding our attention.
However, too often that “I need a break” is the excuse used to not experience life. We delude ourselves that watching the television is experiencing when in reality it’s living vicariously from the sideline.
So, if you want to know how to dance, go dance and if you really want to see that show, record it because the dance should be the priority.
If you want to learn a language, find a Rosetta stone or a class and give it your all. You’ll experience satisfaction when you’re playing a video game and another language comes over your headset and, by golly, you know what they’re saying.
If you want to learn climbing, find a gym or a friend who can teach you. The next time you’re reading a book and the protagonist is climbing, you’ll experience the book that much more because it’ll ring true with your own experience. Or, you’ll catch when the author didn’t do enough research. Either way, it’s fun.
More importantly than the learning or achieving, what this gives you is relationship because inevitably when you want to accomplish something, it involves interacting with others. Such interactions are what add richness and texture to life because we are social creatures by nature who grow and thrive off our interactions.
For instance, in rock climbing, it is possible to free solo, or climb by one’s self. However, no amount of free soloing will teach you to communicate, or show you the importance of trust in your fellow climber, or build a relationship with a friend. You can talk to the rock as much as you want, but it won’t talk back, won’t tell you if you’re in danger beyond popping or cracking just before you fall from a lose hold, it won’t help you if or when you fall.
The time spent on those meaningful relationships is what will pick you up when you fall. Otherwise, you lie broken at the bottom just waiting for someone to hopefully notice that something’s wrong.
Even a writer who sits behind her computer needs to do research, share her craft, and leave her computer from time to time for inspiration.
The striving, the accomplishment, the relationship enrich life far more than a game, book, or show ever will.
As Oscar Wild once wrote:
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
So avoid becoming a hermit. Enjoy your down time however you like, but for the majority of your time, live instead of merely exist.
What do you dream of doing with your life? What next step, even small, will move you toward accomplishing that dream?