By MARTIN SEVCIK
When I was much younger, time was an enemy of sorts. Whenever I was waiting for something to happen, no matter how mundane the event was, I would find myself agonizing over how slow the time was passing. The worst was when I was waiting for someone to come home; I wanted to see them, but I would have to wait for potentially hours, a daunting proposition for a six-year-old. No one was telling me what to do, and I would stare at the walls of my room for hours.
I find myself in the exact same predicament a decade later.
My father comes home just before midnight on weekdays. Until then, I have to find a way to fill the time by myself while I stay in voluntary isolation. I have countless books on the shelf I have yet to read, pages of homework I’ve been assigned and hundreds of shows I could watch online, yet I find myself staring at the wall and doing nothing instead.
Contrary to what I expected, I find a certain happiness in doing nothing. This is perhaps the first time in years where I can get away with it, and I am reveling in it with absolute glee. A typical teenager will find themselves constantly busy, finding little downtime to do anything besides what they’re told. Now, all I have is time of my own, time with which I can dictate the flow of my life, yet I find myself doing absolutely nothing with it.
And that is totally fine.
A recent concept that has entered the average millenial’s vernacular is the “mental health day,” where you take some time off for the sole benefit of your emotional and mental state. You aren’t sick, you aren’t busy, you’re merely giving yourself that ever so elusive freetime to do whatever you want. I’ve never really taken one before, and, from an outside perspective, I always thought that it was a way of ignoring your problems, rather than actually going some way to remedy them.
I see now that the benefit of this time off from your daily routine is not how it fixes your problems, but rather how it removes the iron grip other people have on your time. No longer do I have to spend 50 minutes in my chemistry class whenever my school says so. I used to ignore the chemistry textbook on my desk because I had no time to read it, but now I ignore it because I genuinely don’t want to read it. I am no longer obligated to do anything by anyone, and this total freedom means I will do only what I want to, no matter how much Mr. M.B. says the chemistry reading will help me.
There is constant pressure to be productive in school, and even during this time of quarantine people are trying to find ways to maintain routines. They want to stay productive, as that seemingly gives their life form and meaning. I see it the exact opposite way: There is no better way to establish that this is truly my time than to spend it doing nothing. No one can dictate that I must be more or less productive, and that empowers me to do whatever I want. The one thing I normally can’t do is nothing, so with all this time on my hands, I finally have time to pursue this trivial and meaningless use of time.
If I want to do nothing, so be it. I currently have very little responsibility, and I’m going to take full advantage of that freedom. I can stare at the wall and count the number of thumbtack holes it bears knowing full well I am not using anyone’s time but my own. I used to never have the time to waste doing nothing, but now I have all the time in the world.
I intend to waste it well.