We are in that strange limbo never-never land between Christmas and New Year. The present-buying and opening is done, the food mainly consumed and we have 6 days to fill before the New Year.
Life seems to switch to slow motion. Many working people take up the irresistible Christmas promotional offer of 3 days leave for 10 days holiday. For most of us this is a once-a-year long week at home, possibly interspersed with visits from grandparents or day-trips to relatives in the north. But even with these taken into account, we have this strange scary sensation of waking up to day after day of blank time.
Strange indeed. Strange in that it happens only once a year. Strange in that our daily lives are ruled, governed, driven and organised by tasks, deadlines, obligations and responsibilities. So when these take a so-called holiday, we can be left floundering. We want to “make the most” of this unique stretch of time at home. But what does that mean? It is all rather scary.
I know, I should catch up on all those medium-priority home-based tasks which have nagging me all year. The ones which have been on my “to do” list since April waiting for air-time. So far this week I have sealed the shower unit, tidied out my tool-box, sorted out my nails and screws, pruned my wardrobe, taken the analogue TVs to the tip and sorted out endless old photos. So my conscience is partly assuaged. It is also partly assuaged by the fact that I have not done any real work – i.e. the stuff I am on holiday from. Good.
Yet all of that also leaves a rather unsatisfactory feeling. Yes, at the end of the holiday I can convince myself that I didn’t waste the time. Exhibit A, your honour, 1 to do list with 12 ticks. But, honestly, this is just resorting to the tried and tested technique of filling my life with tasks. That is relatively easy. I do that most days; work tasks, home tasks, car tasks, money tasks. All of which is chasing after the wind. The quicker we get through them, the more come flying at us. Our tasks are never done – we shall all die with a full to do list and an bulging inbox.
This is where mild panic can set in. If we didn’t have our tasks, and our deadlines, our self-enforced activity, our responsibilities, what would become of the world? Surely things would fall apart without us? And even more frightening (I shudder to think of it) what on earth would we do with our time?
Well we could do nothing. Two people have suggested that to me recently. Clearly some sort of joke doing the rounds for Christmas. How can you Do nothing? It is a contradiction, and impossibility. You may as well ask me to levitate.
How about some leisure activities, or building some inter-personal relationships? So I could read a book. I just did that – well I finished one. Tick. Or take some creative photos. Tick. Upload on facebook as evidence. Tick. Or engage in conversation with a convenient family member? When they get up I will – pending tick. Or I could write this blog. Almost done, almost a tick. Surely all of those qualify. How am I doing?
Here is another idea. It is the end of 2011. We have a new year coming. What shall I do differently to change my life, impact the world, make a difference? I need a new regime, new targets. Read a book a month. Join a photography club. Cycle and run once a week. Make some new friends. Put my CV out there. Get myself published. Learn the piano. Take up paragliding. Swim the channel. Run faster. Post all of the aforementioned on facebook as evidence:- tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
Tick, tick, tick, tick – the clock is ticking. Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, we fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way.
I am wasting time. Time to get on with something. Do something, change something, resolve something, fix something. No time to stop and stare.
To Do or not To Do – that is the real question.