October 2, 2022 Comments Off on Me time
I made my third run at Split Mountain yesterday, #fail. It was a little over four hours of hard hiking up steep sandy slopes, then forcing our way through dense brush, then wobbling over boulders before I thew up my hands, begged for a clean diaper, and went back the way I’d come.
I got up this morning with aching legs, and we decided to ride up the 155 and then go for a trail run from the forest service fire station. Everything went according to plan because the plan was to do a hard ride, a hard run, and get home absolutely beaten to shit.
Somewhere along the way, or maybe before we started, we had a funny conversation about “me time.”
Where the fuck did that come from? I see it and hear it all the time, a self-serving, pity-party phrase that suggests how deprived you’ve been of enjoyment and fulfillment, and that yeah, it might be indulgent to spend $200 on a pedicure or $50 on a Bundt cake or $300 on a night out with the boys a/k/a shitfaced drunk at the bar, but you know life has been so hard lately, such a grind of total dedication to the needs of others that you just gotta give ol’ Number One a little TLC.
You especially see this in divorce books, lots of reminders about “taking care of yourself” and “treating yourself to something special” and all kinds of similar crap.
And I suppose the reason it gets me is that society and modern life are nothing BUT “me time” and “taking care of Number One.” Isn’t that the very definition of social media, gazing narcissistically at yourself, curating selfies, endlessly fapping off on your IG feed that loops back to you?
This is to say nothing of the crazy amounts of time people spend taking care of themselves with every conceivable luxury food, fancy alcohols, cars/clothes/accessories/entertainment precisely to reward themselves for their hard life of self-abnegation, suffering and sacrifice. Sorry, but I call bullshit.
“Me time” is a capitalist marketing tool designed to sell you shit and designed to force your gaze ever deeper up your navel. “Me time” is what you do every time you buy fast food, buy prepared food at Trailer Joe’s, watch the NFL or anything on TV ever, shop online, dick off on #socmed, do the group ride, read or participate in a chat forum, travel for fun, hang out at the mall, share a meme, work in the yard, in short, virtually every waking moment outside of work is time for you.
Even childrearing for most people has little if any sacrifice when compared to life a hundred years ago. Daycare, giving the kid a phone so they can perpetually “entertain” themselves without human input, school that goes from age five to adulthood, even or especially driving their lazy little butts to school … parenting has its stresses but capitalism has created so many goods and service providers to contract out the hard work to someone else that few parents experience the life-draining hardships that childrearing entailed even forty years ago. And although being a parent always involves some degree of sacrifice, it’s hardly the brutal grind that necessitates the constant escapism of the “me time” philosophy, especially when there are two parents.
If you have to build in constant and regular long-term escapes from parenting, you’re doing it wrong.
The real problem isn’t that you have this crazy hard life whose difficulty can only be militated by a pedicure, it’s that your life is so fucking distracted with stupid shit that by the time the day ends you haven’t gotten the important stuff done, so you have to cram like crazy, stay up late, or engage in other unhealthy behaviors that result in greater exhaustion and frustration. Distraction is what fuels modern capitalism, in fact, whether it’s the constant noise of sirens and traffic, the racket of the TV, the racket of #socmed, the racket of your playlist, the marketing racket of online shopping, and most especially the racket of being attuned to what’s in fashion and what you have to do next to not look poor and needy.
These things are incredibly exhausting, especially that last one, but they are all voluntary. You are beset by distractions because you’re in the vortex of capitalism. The minute you switch off the devices and begin ignoring what other people wear, drive, say, and do, you create incredible amounts of time in the day. And it’s this creation of time that instantaneously sloughs off stress and aggravation. Study after study shows that screen time correlates with depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, and what I nonscientifically call “feeling like shit.”
But rather than reducing any of the above, we double down on the very behaviors that steal from us the only thing anyone is ever born with, which is time.
Not being pressed to respond to people’s online idiocy, not being in the thrall of the talking heads, not caring what the latest weather catastrophe is, never watching anything on TV ever, and especially refusing to buy things you don’t need are all behaviors that create a sense of luxury and ease. The converse of those behaviors results in maddening stress and the realization that something’s not getting done, you’re just not sure what. It’s that feeling you have after watching a 4-hour NFL advertising festival and saying to yourself, “What a waste of time.” Until the next Big Game, which usually happens at a time known as “tomorrow.”
Me time is everywhere, the real me time, which is to say unfilled, unscheduled, unplanned time. It’s what you have to have in order to sit on the porch and enjoy it. It’s what you have to have in order to make things that taste good from scratch. It’s what you have to have in order to go stomp around and get lost. But it doesn’t come easily in 2022. You have to go get it.