“You don’t need more money. You don’t need more free time. You can always do it.
Play is a state of mind–it’s a way to approach the world.
Whether your world is a frightening prison or a loving playground is entirely up to you.”
— Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn
While reading Oliver Burkeman’s “Four-Thousand Weeks”, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. I have enough money and even enough time. I’m not balling out or on sabbatical with weeks of time free. And that’s the point. Enough of each isn’t an unreachable number for many people.
Knowing how to spend it is another thing. Burkeman points out the oddness of looking at time as a thing to spend in the first place.
Before, time was just the medium in which life unfolded, the stuff that life was made of. Afterward, once “time” and “life” had been separated in most people’s minds, time became a thing that you used—and it’s this shift that serves as the precondition for all the uniquely modern ways in which we struggle with time today. Once time is a resource to be used, you start to feel pressure, whether from external forces or from yourself, to use it well, and to berate yourself when you feel you’ve wasted it.
Working out seems a worthy cause, because it makes the rest of the time better. And, hey, maybe it’ll get you a few hundred or thousand more weeks. Working out is also nice because it’s easily compartmentalized in a day (you can very much completely finish a work out) but it can be an obviously infinite game that you aren’t constantly looking to finish. Even if you could get a six-pack in six weeks, you’d need to work to keep it.
Other things aren’t as obviously infinite.
You think you can play after you’ve finished all your work. That made sense in elementary school when you could finish all your work. It makes less sense with knowledge work.
I have a few friends who are nurses, and they can’t exactly bring their work home with them. They do seem to enjoy their long stretches of time off a little more than friends in tech. Who take a few days of vacation to phase shift into relaxation, if they ever do at all.
In any case, you shouldn’t wait for a vacation to play.
I’m coming to the same conclusion I come to just about every year:
- I should play video games/computer games with close friends in other cities, especially because a lot of us have Oculus Quests
- I should lean into effortful fun to meet up with friends where I live
- I should do the very scary thing of making new friends where I live
- (And I should get back to podcasting with Wally, because creating with friends leads to the best creations and the best friendships)
You probably have time in your life now to play. Maybe you don’t have the people, but they’re worth finding as well.
You have enough.