I apologize for my extended absence. I intend on dealing with its cause herein, and I henceforth intend to write at least one and probably no more than three posts a week. Anyway...
I've always thought that one of life's more interesting paradoxes is that, for most people (and by most people I mean "me") intentional productivity and free time have an almost perfectly indirect correlation. Three years ago, as a freshman taking 18 credits, I did all of my homework in all of my classes, maintained stable relationships with both of my parents and a significant other, read 5 books, got in pretty decent shape, successfully gave up meat for lent and, in my classes, learned most of the important basic principles that I still use today.
This semester, I have 12 credits, 4 of which are music classes. Another two are essentially a trip to Manhattan that I'll be taking next week, and then I have two "normal" classes. Most of my time is free and available for my personal use. If you combine all of the hours I spend in class on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, you only come out with a measly four hours out of 72. What have I accomplished with all of this glorious free time?
Nothing. More or less, nothing. I finished watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, watched all of House of Cards, started DS9 and Voyager, and really that's it. I have hit a rut in my productivity, and I think this kind of thing is fairly common for most people. I think it has something to do with needing to manage your time well when you're busy and not really needing to when you're free, but I won't bother with speculation, I've simply noticed the correlation.
Since this state in which I lack any semblance of productive activity is unacceptable, I recently sought out the advice of one of the many wise friends with whom the Blessed Father has seen fit to bless me. I told him my predicament, my lack of motivation and my lack of anything really meaningful, and what he said to me was so wise and so practical that I'll do my best to say exactly what he told me. He said:
"What you need is a boat. Or rather, you need HALF a boat and a garage. Then, what you do is go down into that garage every Saturday afternoon or every evening or with every moment of free time you have and you work on your half boat. You go to home depot and buy things, come back and measure them, return them to home depot and buy different things that fit better so that bit by bit what you have is less like half a boat and more like a whole boat. If you do this long enough, you end up with an actual whole boat, then you step back and say to yourself, 'I don't even live near a body of water, what am I going to do with a boat?' It's at that point that you realize that all along the point wasn't REALLY to have a boat or even to build a boat, the point was to struggle and work and to care about something for long enough that the struggle made you a better person."
My friend can correct me if I've remembered his advice incorrectly.
Nonetheless, I took it to heart and I think I have a solid idea for a half-boat, but that's not important. What's important is that I know plenty of people out there are either A) feeling unproductive or B) will at some point in the future feel unproductive. My big mistake in the past has been that I've allowed myself to waste those precious moments, so my personal advice to you (and even more so to myself) is to find that half-boat and work on it until your fingers are raw and your brow is sweaty with tireless effort.
Work on it until it means something and embrace that meaning with everything you have, because real meaning is hard to come by in this world.
On a final note, for those who are curious, my half-boat is a play about a group of people who run a Bed and Breakfast together. Don't ask me any questions about it because that's as much as I'm going to let slip. Anyway, go in the peace of the Lord and do your best to stay happy and healthy!
It's been wonderful,-J.R.M.C.