I currently struggle with too much free time. Too much time that is not scheduled or committed or filled. I currently have nothing that I have to do. I struggle with time that does not tell me what I am supposed to do or when or how. Open ended, hours and hours of time. I have two or three things I have to do, and many days to do them. This vast expanse of an unscheduled life leaves me with nothing but time.
I spent the vast majority of my life with structured time. My days were filled with that which I had to do, those people or persons that I needed to take care of, the bills to pay, household chores, meals, and a professional job. Nearly every hour of every day was dictated to me. My list of HAVE TO never ended and was never complete. I was a student, single mother, career woman and spouse. Each role brought me a set of expectations and tasks and responsibilities. My life had many demands.
I used to dream about unstructured time. I used to crave days and days of complete relaxation with no person asking anything of me, no part of my life in need, no task left uncompleted. I wanted what I did not have. I fantasized about all the time in the world and no thing that needed me.
Years later, I sit here as a house sitter with hours and hours of unstructured time. I live in the void. Now, I have all the time in the world with no urgent demands. I have it and I don’t know what to do with it. Sadly, I over compensate. I over eat and drink and sit my ever growing ass on the couch. I play on the internet and watch TV. I have a couple things to do and no timeframe to complete them. THIS is my challenge. Finding meaning in this time is where I struggle. Oodles and oodles of unstructured and unfilled and unaccounted for time fucks with me. Frankly, it sucks. I never thought it would suck.
This is new territory, unfamiliar ground. This is hard for me because this is not what I know. If I do my laundry (which is not even a full load), or clean the bathrooms, then I will have nothing to do tomorrow. I will have nothing to look forward to and then I will have even more hours of unscheduled and unfilled time.
Living on the road means that my time is structured for me. Not every hour of every day, but each day I have things that must be done and things I want to do. My day fills itself. I also do not have easy access to electricity, Internet or Cell service, food or water. Generally speaking. That means I fill my time in constant search for a shower, laundry mat, power and to refill my water supply. I am constantly monitoring my supplies against my next visit to a city or town or store. I am thinking about my next destination while I plan how to maximize my time at my current location. There is always something to complete and plan for.
I am grateful for this down time to get new glasses, see the dentist, doctor, clean my gear and get all re-situated. I had necessary and expensive work performed on the Jeep. I have been comfortable and lived on the cheap and have not had to put on four layers of clothes to pee in the middle of the night. I have had unlimited access to mail and electricity and internet and water. I have enjoyed a jet tub and a fireplace and candles. All the modern conveniences at my finger tips.
I have also eaten may way to tighter fitting clothes, lost any fitness I had, and have become lazy as hell. I am the consummate couch potato. I struggle with how to fill my days. Once I have cooked and cleaned and arranged just about everything I can, I am out of tasks. I mean, I ran out of real things to do days and days ago. Now I just make shit up. I am having a hard time with all this time.
Next on my agenda is volunteering in the mountains of Colorado. After that, I will have my seasonal job and my days largely dictated to me. My surroundings will provide the sides to the box in which I will live. The how and where of my life will be built in. I will spend my first few weeks getting oriented to my new location and the new people and the new rhythm. How I wash my clothes, where I obtain my food, when and if I will have the internet or cell service will again be something I spend time learning, figuring out, solving.
Once I figure out the business of living my life, I have the business of having a job. I will have things to do in order to receive that paycheck and justify the living space that is being provided to me. I will have most of my hours filled for me. In a way, this will be a comfort. In a way, it will be a challenge. It will be familiar.
I am excited to get back out in the world with a sense of purpose. I am excited to have new things to do, places to explore, people to meet. I am looking forward to having the challenges of how and where I will live. I will have to learn how I will eat and sleep and bathe and clean my clothes. I will be learning new jobs in new places with new people. I am sure I will have times to myself, but the majority of my time will be structured for me.
My plethora of unstructured time with unlimited resources is coming to an end. I am looking forward to my next adventures. I am looking forward to structured time with resource challenges. I am looking forward to getting off my ass and back into life. I am looking forward to feeling better, stronger, and more like myself. I am looking forward to moving on.
I don’t know why it is so hard for me to structure my own time. I don’t know why I struggle when life is comfortable. Seems I need challenge in my day, stimulation in my tasks, things to do that contribute to the living of my life. Seems it is way too easy for me to sit or eat or drink or relax a little too much. Seems I am getting a better sense of what I want and need in and for my life. Seems that stagnation is just not for me.
Cheers to knowing myself better. Cheers to my continued adventure.
Cheers to moving ahead!
2 Comments Add yours
Well said. Excellent post. I am the same. All those plans for exercise and self-improvement and creativity went out of the window. I really have to make myself do stuff, otherwise I would eat all day long. How weird. All those years that I longed to be in this position of freedom. I never thought freedom would be hard.
Hi Michelle. I have finally found a strong internet signal so can leave a comment. I tried to leave a comment the day you posted this, but I don’t think it worked. I have forgotten exactly what I wrote originally, but it was to the effect that I feel the same. I thought my unstructured free time would be filled with self-improvement and healthy living. Instead, I battle against over-eating and hiding from the elements (too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet). It is not at all what I expected. I am so glad that I have a dog as this means I HAVE to go out everyday. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I am very creative (making things) and sometimes I exercise. Sometimes I vegetate. To help with the over-eating I have devised my own ‘star chart’. Every day that I manage to avoid snacking, I get a sticker (the equivalent of a gold star, but I couldn’t buy any gold stars!) – just like a kiddies reward chart. It has been surprisingly helpful! I haven’t got many stickers yet, but it is an eye-opener to see just how many days I eat or drink something ‘extra’ (ie, sugary snacking outside of my proper meals). Keep up the blog!