All the nothing we want to do
Adam dwells on a Calvin and Hobbes quote.
Vlog Every Day April, day 19! It’s important to try to keep some amount of perspective and balance. You can’t force yourself to fit someone else’s idea of productive every second of your life. That doesn’t mean we don’t and shouldn’t have responsibilities toward those around us, but it does mean you can read that book you’ve been putting off without feeling guilty about “not being productive enough.”
On that note, I’m trying to catch up on writing captions for the last few videos. But I am also allowing myself to sleep.
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Hello, Earthlings! You’re watching Adam the Alien. Today is day nineteen of Vlog Every Day April. I’m recording this at the VERY, very end of the day because I spent too much time on the previous video, and I’m spending too much time on the next video. So here’s a little insert in between them.
If you watched yesterday’s video, you know that even though it didn’t quite go as planned, I had a great time in Portland at my friend DJ Switch’s birthday pizza crawl. And that was only the beginning of what was a kind of nice mid-week weekend. In fact, it was even sunny! And pretty nice weather, both days. And now it’s cold and wet, again, because…it’s Oregon.
So as I was thinking about what I could talk about quickly, but still not feel like I was just completely half-assing the video, I saw this quote on Twitter from a Calvin and Hobbes Twitter feed that I follow.
Calvin and Hobbes has always had a special place in my heart. It was my favorite comic strip as a kid. It probably still is, to be honest.
I basically learned to read predominantly on Calvin and Hobbes.
Which explains why in elementary school, I had a much larger vocabulary than any of my peers.
Well, that and the fact that most of my interactions outside of school were with adults.
Neither of those things did much to help me learn to socialize with my actual age group.
But anyway, the quote —and I may be misremembering it, so I’ll flash it on the screen— was something to the effect of, “There isn’t enough time for all the nothing we want to do.”
And that got me to be thinking about what time we perceive as valuable, versus what is frivolous.
Now, something I’ve had a difficult time learning as an adult is that time spent seeing to your own health and happiness IS valuable time.
Now, this is a hard thing to learn, because in our society —and certainly for me in my life— there’s this ingrained notion that if you’re not being actively productive, you’re wasting time.
Now, not only is this an incredibly dysfunctional way of thinking —and a mindset that I see as the result of rampant and unrestrained capitalism— but it doesn’t even really supply any kind of meaning for the people saying it.
Because productivity is such a subjective thing.
For instance, some people would see me making these videos as frivolous and unproductive.
But for a lot of these videos —in fact, probably my LEAST viewed videos— a lot of work goes into them. And the people who actually do enjoy them seem to get a lot out of them.
I’ve had people reference videos to me that I’d practically forgotten about, that for them was life-changing! And so, obviously, my time making that video wasn’t unproductive.
The trouble with the concept of productivity, as we understand it in our society, seems to be that we think of it as, “Well, the things *I* value are productive.”
And then we start pushing that on other people.
God knows throughout my life, especially in my childhood, I frequently heard the refrain, “You need to learn to prioritize.” And while yes, ADHD does mean that’s a little true, the problem is that I most hear that when I actually am prioritizing things. But my priorities are different from the priorities of the people who are telling me I need to do something else.
And likewise, the things that those critics would tell me to do were things that just didn’t seem important to me.
Now there’s a certain degree to which we all have to do things which we may not think are important, or not think are our priorities, or our idea of productivity or value.
But part of living and sharing a world with other human beings is that sometimes, we’ve got to see to other people’s needs as well. But I think sometimes we take that too far, and forget about our own needs.
Very often, the things I’m told about how I can improve my work or improve my life are things which, to me, would make life unbearable.
Meanwhile, the things I’m told I should stop doing and give up on are literally the only things that give life meaning to me!
It’s like, don’t tell me to stop doing the things that make me want to wake up tomorrow. That’s…are you TRYING to kill me? Well…some of you in the comments might be, but you’re assholes and I don’t give a shit what you say!
That’s not directed at all of you. Just the assholes. Most of you are wonderful, beautiful, and I appreciate your ongoing support. Especially if you leave comments. That’s, like, extra effort. That’s extra mile.
I am rambling way off topic, now.
Getting back to the Calvin and Hobbes quote, I think one of the most important things you can do, in life, is to just take some time to breathe, maybe spend some time with other people, where you’re not stressing out about productivity.
Because if you don’t do that, you’re going to burn out. And I say this as someone who has burnt out time and time again, and pretty much lives consistently in burnout now.
Because contrary to the image I may give, I am a massive workaholic. And even when I am playing and having a good time, part of my brain is always, like, thinking about work, thinking about how I can make something or do something or “What about that task I still have to do?” or what’s my to-do list of hundreds of frickin’ thousands of things that I keep adding to it UUUAAAAAAGGGHHHH!
So it’s really nice to find those moments when I can just, I mean, do what other people would think of as nothing, but *I* don’t think of it as nothing. Like, a walk through the woods is not nothing. Time spent watching a salamander crawl along the ground is not nothing.
Because if you’re always doing someone else’s idea of SOMETHING, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you are just a bundle of stress waiting to explode.
And as someone who is most of the time a bundle of stress waiting to explode, I can tell you: that’s…that’s not a fun way to live. It’s also not a productive way to live…even in other people’s idea of what productivity may be.
It’s hard to be a healthy, contributing member of society when you’re a ball of stress and anxiety that’s self-destructing at every moment.
So remember to take those moments. And if you hear a little voice in your head, or an actual voice outside of your head, telling you, “You need to stop wasting time and be productive”?
Remember that PART of that is taking some time to do a little bit of nothing.
I’ll see y’all tomorrow. I’m Adam the Alien. Fare thee well!
Writer. Actor. Director. Chalk artist. YouTuber. Nerdfighter. Traveler. Pansexual. Genderfluid. Millennial. Socialist. Living a complex life beyond those words.