Nothing makes me happy

Posted 8/9/23

Wait! It’s not what you think.

Today’s column isn’t a sad melodrama about my continuing struggles with disability, the country’s medical system or how much I miss having …

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Nothing makes me happy


Wait! It’s not what you think.

Today’s column isn’t a sad melodrama about my continuing struggles with disability, the country’s medical system or how much I miss having a car. It’s about realizing that nothing can be an activity, in and of, itself.

Those who have read my column have heard of my boyfriend, Doug. The love of my life and an incredibly caring man, he is also the type to feel as if he’s failed if he spends a few hours playing video games, watching TV or dawdling on his phone. He often feels like if he wasn’t being interactive with the world around him that he wasn’t using his time to his maximum potential.

There are too many times where, after a nice relaxing time hanging out and half watching TV while I read on my phone, he will suddenly stand up frustrated that he has been stationary for so long and express a need to get out of the house. That could mean going shopping, playing some disc golf – our favorite outdoor game – or just taking a leisurely drive to listen to the radio.

I’m different though. It isn’t as if I don’t understand where he is coming from. I mean, time spent doing nothing productive can feel like a waste, especially if you did it instead of doing something else that you actually wanted to do. However, I always look at the time I spend doing nothing as a reward for all the time I spent actually doing something.

It’s not that I’m lazy, I just don’t have much passion. There are things I have to do, things I like to do, things that I’m willing to do if asked and things I want to do.

Things I have to do usually include work and chores. Writing this column, while more fun than other things I may have to write, is work. Scheduling rides and spending hours on buses just to make sure I make it to appointments on time is work, too. I enjoy the feeling of a job well done, but that doesn’t make them things I’d do if I didn’t need the money. I wouldn’t just go out and interview people and write about them for fun… Well maybe I would, but I would be a lot more picky about who, what and when I chose to write about.

Things I like to do usually include cooking, baking, eating or playing games. I mean those are pretty self explanatory. They tend to be activities that require a certain amount of physical or mental effort that border on the level of work but manage to be fun enough that I choose to do it for free. Or, in the case of pretty much all of the things I listed, literally pay money to do. Things I’m willing to do if asked is a much wider category. I love Doug. He’s in several bands. I don’t really enjoy live music (I know I’m weird). If he ever asks, though, I’m happily front row at one of his shows to support him and keep him company on the drive. He knows that I don’t go for me, but he also knows I’d never turn him down if he asked. Activities where the only cost is time or mild discomfort tend to fall into this category.

Things I want to do, that’s where it gets harder. I come from a family where I was the oldest, my sister is the middle child with autism and my brother was the youngest. My parents are amazing, but, being poor growing up, I was often found taking up the role of a third parent. I learned to put aside things I like to do so my siblings could do what they like. I learned to be a trooper and do things I had to do without complaint. More and more as I grew up the reward for me became the ability to just waste time.

Time that I didn’t have to fill with an activity, work or spend by proving I’m not useless became like a valuable gem. Reading was one of my life's greatest joys. No, not constructive reading where I learn a lesson or that expands my vocabulary and opens my mind. Rather, I like reading trash. I like fun goofy stories that don’t require you to delve deeper and be introspective.

I like just lying back and riding the coaster that is life. Sitting on the couch and listening to the active world around me as others strive to fill their time with meaning. I like being a bystander. I’m happy to sit shotgun on your ride, but rarely have the desire to take one of my own. I like to think I’m just easily content with even the lowest levels of comfort. Of course, this is coming from a guy who’s been working 40-hour weeks for 20 years and never once had a problem with that. I appreciate the category of have to do. If I didn’t have that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy doing nothing as much as I do.

That doesn’t stop me from floundering for an answer every time Doug says “what do you want to do?” He hates my answer too… “I’m down for whatever.”

Ed, editorial, column


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