I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a few days now and then I read this post over at Thirteen Thoughts today and it really sums a lot of it up for me. I actually came to the conclusion in a very roundabout way but it applies to a lot of things in life. The thing that opened my eyes to it? Gaming.
It isn’t something I’ve mentioned much on this blog oddly enough but I am a huge gamer. Well not so much as I used to be but at one point I would easily spend 40+ hours a week gaming and also worked in a game shop. Please bear with me if you’re not a gamer; my post will become relevant to you, I promise!
My habits have changed dramatically in the time I’ve been gaming and looking back I’m not sure if they’ve changed in a good or a bad way. As a kid I wasn’t much of one; I’d dig out my Spectrum or my Amiga, set it up, play it every day for maybe 2 weeks at a time then put it away again for 6+ months. It wasn’t really until I was 16 that I became more interested in games. I then got really interested in them and would spend all my spare time playing them instead of drawing or reading like I used to. I would actually finish the games then though and really try to do everything in them, appreciating every little detail. When I moved out to go to university some of my favourite times were spent in the local GAME just browsing the back catalogue of games, seeing what took my fancy and occasionally treating myself. I’d head back to my room and lock myself away (I was never much of one for socialising and particularly not at uni, I just couldn’t get on with the drinking/drugs/aimless chatter that my fellow students loved so much).
I eventually dropped out of uni and got a job at GAME for 7 years. I mostly loved it, particularly getting to chat to the customers about their views and recommendations for games and of course the staff discount. However working there spoiled my love of browsing for a new game; I knew what was coming out, I knew lots about it thanks to the reps who would pop in to sell it to us so that we could sell it to our customers and I could get the newer games cheaper instead of feeling I should browse the cheap back catalogue. I bought more and more games on a whim and rarely finished any, flitting between them depending on my mood that day. This was only made worse when I got into MMOs; I’ve always loved RPGs anyway which is terrible for someone like me as it means I just want to make tons of alts and experience all the builds and MMOs are particularly bad for this but with the added pressure of reaching end game quickly so that you can actually play with the other people online.
I still flit between games a lot but I’m making a concious effort to slow down, appreciate the worlds, the characters and the story. I’m trying not to rush to maximum level or get that amazing bit of loot that will really help. I don’t use guides to make sure I get the best path through everything or make the perfect character. It’s tough but it’s making me appreciate them more. I’m not buying the latest game because I just have to have it now; instead I’m adding it to my wishlist on Amazon so I don’t forget it exists but can buy it when it’s cheaper and I don’t have 40+ unfinished games waiting in my drawers (I wish that was an exaggeration but it’s probably an underestimate).
The point is that this doesn’t just apply to gaming either. I realised the other day that I used to read when I felt like it and would read for as long as I wanted. Now I only really read when I go to bed and I will set myself a target. ‘I’ll read 50 pages, I’ll read 2 chapters, then I can go to sleep.’ I have been watching the Painting Challenge on BBC and want to start up my art again but then I started thinking ‘maybe I should make myself do one drawing a month’ but what will that achieve? It will make it seem like a chore. Why not just draw when I am inspired or want to? If that means 5 this week and then none for the next 3 months what’s wrong with that?
On the note of chores why try to fit too many in? Who says I have to vacuum and dust every room in my flat each week? We rarely use the living room, it’s just a way to get into our kitchen for us and somewhere we hang our drying. It doesn’t get hugely dusty or dirty so why stress if I don’t do it one week? I do like to have a to-do list and always have but why does that have to be crammed with 10 things every day? So I have an ongoing “to eBay” list; they don’t all have to be listed and sold in March. Do an item or two each week and eventually it will go down.
On a similar vein to the gaming, why do we have to watch all the latest films or box sets now, this instant? I used to buy all the latest games to avoid them being spoiled and that can be an issue with TV shows when you go to work and everyone is talking about them but that doesn’t mean you should sit down at 11.00pm and watch that latest episode of “The Walking Dead” just because you know it will be discussed tomorrow; you’re probably tired and not concentrating on it and just wishing you were in bed.
One of my favourite times of the day is before and after work. I walk as often as I can (a 2.89 mile trip) which takes me around 45 – 50 minutes and everyone always wonders if I’m crazy for doing it! It’s not the nicest walk as it’s mostly through town with a short 10 minute stint through the arboretum but it’s just me, no one and nothing to distract me. I can just think of random things, quite often blog post ideas that I forget by the time I get home or reflect on the day ahead or that has just passed. Being the organised type that I am I often plan out what I’m going to do all evening or over the weekend, then being the flitting type that I am I often fail to follow those plans. It’s still nice to have that thinking time though and just relax. Even in the urban environment I see pretty gardens, lovely trees and even wildlife such as buzzards, waterfowl in the arboretum, song birds and foxes.
Of course even better than this is on holiday when I visit my parents who have retired to France. They are in the middle of nowhere; their hamlet has around 13 other people living there. I do always connect to their wifi but I try not to use it. I don’t go on any social media, don’t post here, don’t check emails. I tell people not to text me unless it’s urgent. I do Skype my boyfriend once a week; have to show him some favouritism after all plus then I get to see my degus. I spend a lot of time walking with my parents. There are mountains, rivers and forests to enjoy and a ton of wildlife to watch. When the weather isn’t great or we’re just having a lazy day I read and I get through a lot of books while I’m there or I play games on my DS. We do jigsaw puzzles or I just spend hours with the cats on my lap.
I’ve touched on this before in a post, how we complain we have no time to just sit down and relax but just think how much time you spend on social media, watching TV or doing something else just because it’s easy and you can’t be bothered to do anything else. Really enjoy that time and if you’re not, stop doing it. Always wanted to perfect your guitar skills? Next time you’re staring at the TV thinking this show is boring don’t stay there staring aimlessly at it. Get up, get your guitar tuned and practice. Next time you don’t want to clean the kitchen? Turn around, grab your eye mask and jump in the bath for an hour. Want to head out for a meal with some friends and just appreciate their company? Don’t wait for them to text you, call them and suggest it, really appreciate the time with them. Even if they don’t want to go out you can at least have a chat and connect with them. Do something you enjoy, slow down and just appreciate life. Or if you like to live life on the edge, speed up and enjoy it!