“I have nothing to do…

…What should I do with my time?” is something I often ask myself, especially when I have a tiny bit of free time in between my busy schedule, or a lot of time during vacations. It can be really easy to figure out what to do when you have a list of ‘to do’s’ or when someone tells you what to do, but once that’s taken away from you, it becomes a bit more tricky. Often it’s the simple question of do I want to relax or do I want to find myself some work to do (laundry, cleaning up, a new self-directed project)? This often really depends on how tired you are or if you want to be doing something efficient. However, although difficult, I think it would be much more beneficial to have what we do in our free time more carefully thought out and not just left to chance (especially if we’re feeling good and are tired). The sum of what we do in our free time is really what defines who we are and how we live our lives as free people, beyond what is strictly necessary for sustenance.

So now that we know free time is important, what do we do with that free time? How I like to think about it is that what you do in your free time should be in alignment with your values and greater goal in life. However, the majority of us (including me) have a shaky idea of how our values would be physically manifested in our day to day life and absolutely no vision of what our greater goal in life is. So it seems to be that the simplest compromise would be to find out a couple of small things we are certain are important in our lives and to reflect that to what kind of activities we do in our free time. A couple of examples of that would be if  helping the world is important to you, then start small in your free time with watching the news and keeping a journal with ideas that come to you, could be ways other people have made a positive change in the world, or maybe even jotting down some policy ideas. Or if being rested for your planned activities of the day is important to you, make sure you take the time to completely rest. It might seem obvious, but we much too often lose track of what we really want to be doing in each and every moment, or even forget what we were doing (like putting dirty plates in the fridge instead of in the sink, I know I’ve done that before).

I guess the broader idea you can derive from this is that it’s meaningful to have the bigger picture in mind when you are choosing what to do in your free time, but also in other aspects of life. Be true to yourself with what you actually want to do, in the moment and in the long run, because that is the only way you are going to be happy, by doing what you like and find meaningful.

L’Étranger

Having just read L’Étranger (the Stranger) by Albert Camus, and “La Cantatrice Chauve” by Ionesco – both which deal with man in the face of the absurd – I mercilessly fall upon the question, how will I face death when it comes upon me? Death is very much an absurd thing. We always unconsciously know it is coming to us, or at least we like to pretend that we know, but we have never experienced it or have any hint to what it might really be. We know what the external signs of death are: no pulse, a cessation in breath, no response, and eventual decomposing of the body, but not really what it means to the person that has died since they can no longer tell us. We know it means a termination of living, all that we know how to do, but other than that, does it really mean anything? In Christian tradition, it means that you start with your “next life”, while in Buddhist tradition it means that you are reincarnated. But for us, the living, that does not really matter to us since there is no way to know what happens after death, nor does it really concern us.

This is the point that Albert Camus makes, Death has absolutely no meaning to us since it is not something we can physically grapple with. It is the undefined endpoint to our lives. What really matters is the time we spend before death, because it is all we really have and all we can be sure to have. Knowing and understanding the absurdity but certainty of death makes us free because it forces us out of the self-constructed vicious cycles we create. Vicious cycles such as what Mr. Meursault calls “the machinery of justice” (108) in L’Étranger or the absurdity of language as demonstrated in “La Cantatrice Chauve”. Life at its most basic, the line between the start point of birth and the endpoint of death, is not a vicious cycle. If we are not obsessed with death and remain true to the reality of the present, then we can be free even moments before our death. The eventual coming of death does not have to steal our freedom.

As I think to my death, I cannot understand it. But what I do understand is that I do not need to understand it. I do not need to waste my time thinking about it, because it will come eventually, it will certainly come. Worrying about it just makes me live like a ‘dead man.’ What I should waste my time on is living my life, whatever that may be, and not wishing it were something else. Because as Mr. Meursault reminds us, “a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison” (79), that is how rich life is.

Passion

So I wonder, where does passion come from?

I haven’t figured it out for myself yet, so maybe by writing, I can. It’s what I always do: use writing as a way to better understand how my own brain works.

To be honest, I feel as if my life (more specifically my day to day life) is pretty hazy right now, although pleasant. It’s not too bad, but it would be nice to have somewhat more of a direction – a goal, a hobby I can work towards. And I don’t really have that right now. Although I may find writing, reading, and being in nature really nice, I’m not really sure I could pick either to be the one thing that I do for the rest of my life. Though maybe I could, but there is the possibility that I would be always yearning to do something different. But overall, I don’t really know what I really like right now, so that’s why I’m trying to figure out where in the world could this passion, that everyone tells me to find, could be coming from.

Since I haven’t really ever experienced a burning passion for anything, I honestly don’t really know what it could be. Though my closest guess is something that is closely aligned to your natural state that you could really see yourself doing every day. Something that is important to you that you feel brings some deeper meaning in your life and makes you somewhat fulfilled at the end of the day. But I do not believe that anything will cut it, that if you work hard enough on something, it will eventually become your passion. A passion has to be in accordance with your talents and your life philosophy. Only then will it truly be a passion.

But at the same time, I kind of feel like it can be hard to find in the first place. From what I’ve seen, daily stresses can really interfere with one’s passion. From stress to dissatisfaction to low confidence, it can all affect your outlook on the things you like to do. And all of a sudden, as I have experienced, unfortunately, your favorite activities can become a chore, even to the point that you might give them up. Now I don’t know if I’ve just been too picky, or if my hobbies have simply not been passions, but I have given up many of my activities much too easily, at least from my perspective. But the big question here is: are passions exempt or subjected from being influenced by these daily stresses. If you cease to like a hobby because of something else going on in your life, is it simply not meant to be your passion, or is it because of that something else, and once you’ll get over that stress, you’ll be able to like that hobby again? This is what I’ve been struggling with, and I’m not sure if my passion is something I have already discovered or am yet to discover.

Never the less, it’s late now, so it’s time to go to bed. That is my current goal pushing me forward.

Good night,

~hiroshimatoday