Last week I embarked on a quest for the most magnificent week of vacation ever, which took place on my living room couch. Yes, this was the much fabled and oft discussed “Stay-Cation,” a week to catch up on rest, ride the bike a bit, and catch up on some projects around the house.
However it mostly meant sitting on the couch to watch Netflix.
One day as the dudes were sleeping, I was flipping through the Apple TVs offerings. We don’t have cable in our household, so we rely on the variety of free stuff on YouTube and our Netflix subscription to keep us entertained. But I was struck by just how much is available to me in a moment’s notice. Would I like to watch that movie I missed in the theaters a few months back? For $20 and 30 seconds of my time it could be on my TV. Would I like to play a video game? They have the classic Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega Genesis. That sucker was free! Time to binge watch Designated Survivor because someone once told me it was good and “HOLY COW THIS SHOW IS KIND OF LIKE THE WEST WING HAD A SPY NOVEL IN THE MIDDLE OF IT!?!” No problem there.
And it doesn’t stop there. I have this little computer that comes around with me every single day in my pocket called an iPhone. Yesterday I went to Trader Joes to grab some groceries for the family, and with only one person ahead of me in line I got on Twitter just to see what was going on. There were three minutes of time where I had nothing going on, just waiting, and I filled them with other people’s opinions because I thought it was entertaining. Huh.
As I’ve been reflecting back on it, I wonder how much I use entertainment as a way to numb my brain. When I worked fewer and more predictable hours, I used to come home and watch Judge Judy every single day. When Sarah pressed me on it, I said it was because you needed exactly zero brain cells to comprehend what was going on with that show. After all the thinking and theology of a normal work day, I wanted to come home and zone out.
To be sure there are times for that, but I wonder if I’m in a bit too deep. After I finish up some seminary work this week, I’m going to do another read through of one of my favorite and most inspiring books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s an absolute must-read for anyone who engages in any kind of creative endeavor at all. In the book, Pressfield personifies “Resistance,” that block against sitting down and doing anything of worth. Resistance must love how much we work to entertain ourselves. Again, there are certainly times when TV and video games are good for us. But I wonder how many times I’ve used those entertainment devices to get the better of my work, to keep me from doing something creative, like writing that next song, or seminary paper, or even blog post?
To be sure, as with most things in life, this requires balance. A vacation is a totally good time to catch up on entertainment, as long as you’re including your family in it. The end of a long work-day can and probably should contain some detox, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the work day.
So my question to you today is, how do you strike that balance between entertainment and work? Do you put any limits on yourself and your consumption of entertainment? Join the conversation below!