I have this bit of time in the morning where I write. And more often than not, when I am writing, it is not what I want to do. I solider through it, get my words out on the screen, and go about my day.
Sometimes, I will later sit down and try writing something else. Many times, I find that I actually am enjoying writing, and that I’m writing something worthwhile. Other times, however, it is the same as the morning: yes, I’m doing it, but no, I don’t really want to be doing this.
Sometimes, I’m afraid, the rest of my life is like this, and I hate when that happens.
It is one thing to not want to do homework, or a menial task, or some other such obligation. It is quite another, however, to have free time, and not be able to find something enjoyable to do with it.
This is not to say that there are many, many times that I’m fortunate enough to have free time, and fortunate enough to find something enjoyable to do with it. As I’ve written, I have a number of things I like to do in my spare time: write; read; play my guitar; listen to music or some interesting audio show; watch a movie or interesting TV show; go for a walk; practice card tricks. Often, I do one of these things, and enjoy myself.
The trouble is, though, that there are times where I have free time, and just want to do any of those things.
It just happens. It’s a weekend. I have all this free time, and nothing that I do seems all that satisfying.
I sit down to write, and words fail me. I play my guitar, and no song appeals to me. I sit down in from of the set, and no films or shows interest me.
It is times like this that I wish I were one of those lucky people who has found something that completely and totally absorbs them, for hour after hour. Magician Ricky Jay can spend literally hours working with a deck of cards, practicing passes, fans, shuffles, and cuts. And when I saw a documentary about him that showed him practicing, there was a look on his face that I envied: the look of someone completely present, completely in the moment, completely alive.
I’ve occasionally known moments like this.
Many years ago, I took a filmmaking class at The New York Film Academy. I was editing my film—editing takes forever—and before I knew it, I had sat down editing my film for 18 hours straight. While I was doing this, there was a feeling of being fully engaged in what I was doing, and I simply didn’t want to leave it, ever.
This happens every so often when I read a book, and I cherish this. Many times, books interest me, and I’ll say yeah, this was a good book. Sometimes, though—as in the case of, say, Pat Conroy’s “The Lords of Discipline” or Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”—the book becomes my world, and I don’t want to do anything else; it is, for me, one of the best feelings I have ever felt, and, I think, ever will feel.
Some people, the really lucky ones, are like this most of the time. They do what they do for a living, and what they do for a living is what they want to do, well, just about all the time. They are engaged, they are present, and they are deeply, deeply content.
So often, I ask myself: what do I really want in life (besides, of course, spend time with friends and family)? And more and more, my answer is this: I want to be doing something constructive and positive that fully engages me. I want time to fade, as I feel myself completely living in the present.
I just want to be here now.