too much time

There’s no small degree of shame in still feeling, aged almost 37, that I have regular phases of being a time-rich, time-fat, time-criminal.

Seeing the world and all its people around me, it appears I have a preposterous, borderline illegal amount of time. And I am guilty of doing nothing of real value with it. I could always be doing more.

All this time should be treated with an intelligent, industrious strategy. I could use it to create something of genuine substance. Or to at least try. But I don’t, because… because I am lazy? Scared? A coward? Therefore I am financially unstable, unrecognised and unsuccessful and have a poor delicate pitiable ego.

When you have plenty of time on your hands these days, those hands (or at least one of them) invariably reaches for a smartphone and opens an app.  This is almost involuntary, instinctive, which I really hate, I properly HATE: how I have been programmed, how I do it without thinking. Ugh. I am one of them.

There’s your phone sitting there. Pick me up, it smugly whispers. You are bored, not engaged enough with anything else, so you do, with as much deliberate calculation as you scratch your nose. You open up the internet world of all the people who are so much better than you, and you idly pinball around grandly-followed accounts, variously hating their nauseating bilge and yourself for reading it.

This battle is brutal and constant and played out entirely in the confines of your own head. You have to manage the head stuff sensibly and smartly. The brain is this all-powerful unfathomable supercomputer of electrical connections and associations. You can’t control it but you need to manage it and know when the connections and associations it’s making are unhelpful. The paths it takes are usually well trodden and it takes a serious amount of work to install bypasses or diversions. It can feel impossible to do. I am struggling, I am not busy, I am not making enough money, I do not know what will happen or how much money I will have in a month, bills, when there are birthdays of my niece and nephew, council tax, two months, a fat insurance payment due, three months, car repairs? Then it is around Christmas, then there is mortgage mortgage mortgage, always. Fuck Christmas. Fuck everything.

No, that’s ok man, says the chill hippy angel on one shoulder. That’s just the way it is. You’ll cope, like you coped before. Things will work out somehow. You should accept that all the stressing and mental self-hate is pointless.

No, it absolutely is not pointless and it is not ok, says the manic hyper demon on the other shoulder. You should be doing more. There is no way you can have exhausted every possible avenue. You are a shambles, an unsuccessful failure with not the faintest clue what you are doing. You should be ashamed of yourself. How bloody old are you now anyway? Get your shit together, you tedious individual.

I know I know. Sorry.

You look at all the rich dickheads, the comfortably off twats, idiots in Range Rovers, people going on holiday to nice places, skiing. Fucking skiing. Your shit Facebook photos make me want to cry for a confusing number of reasons. I’ve never been anywhere as beautiful as that. Why are you so much better than me? How are you so much better than me? Because you have shackled yourself to a career, an employer, a boss? Conscious lifestyle decisions, or just the ways we allow life to shape us? But still, it is so enviable. Don’t we all envy each other through our lens of wild misconceptions?

But still, still I feel capable of so much more than I have ever achieved and ever believe I will achieve. And that hurts. Still I attribute too much meaning to people with big social media followings but shit content, and that hurts too. And still I have fairly paltry social media followings despite having the time to build better, but I haven’t, for shit reasons, and that needles away.

Calm. Hush. Stop.

There are always the quick and easy checklist tasks you can do and you do frequently do. There’s stuff you could be doing with a phone or sitting at a desk: writing some vapid bollocks professional blog post nobody will ever read (not even your wife, despite needily mentioning it several times before starting to feel truly pathetic); taking photos, posting a new webpage, rehashing an old webpage, commenting, blogging, checking, Googling, monitoring, considering how you might upgrade equipment on a limited budget. You sniff around in desperate hope of hope – a spike in web traffic, a paltry new sale, a lead. You psychologically self-harm by checking your bank balance. Few of these are genuinely constructive or profitable things to do.

You tend to go round in increasingly maddening circles, feeling foolish and useless until your head hurts and your inattention and easy distraction mildly disgusts yourself. This is worse than ever at the moment. I have struggled to focus on anything for a length of time: a book, film, podcast, task of any kind. Everything sags and wilts and bores. Everything is slightly pointless. Everything is in limbo. You wonder how indefinite this cycle can be.