Is Downtime a Waste of Time?

I’ve come to the (probably not unforeseeable) conclusion that Magic the Gathering is close to the most perfect game in the world for me. Infinitely replayable, always being updated, fantasy-based theme, and you get to organize things. A lot. You don’t get to be a librarian without having a really strong “This Must All Be Put in Order” streak in you somewhere. Yesterday morning, I sat down to reorganize my cards “just for a second.” I looked up at the clock, and two hours had gone by.

Also, I hadn’t eaten breakfast. And I was too late to eat lunch. I didn’t really plan on taking two hours to reorganize pieces of paper, but I had much more fun doing it than you would think should be possible.

Of course, at times it’s hard for me to justify my gaming habits to myself. I mean, I went to the Return to Ravnica Prerelease on Saturday (took fourth out of about 25 or 30 people there–not bad for a guy who really has been playing less than a year), but it took seven hours of my day. That’s a lot of hours. I did take TRC with me, and we had a really good time together, so that helps, but still–seven hours? That’s a chunk of change.

Then again, maybe it just feels worse because Magic the Gathering probably isn’t as socially acceptable as, say, watching sports every day. Or watching tons of television. Or working on a hobby. Or [insert other non-life-essential pastime here].

As I think about it, I believe a lot of things look like a waste of time to an outsider. This is why video games get a really bad rap, but then again, ask a teen his or her opinion about more adult activities like gardening or cleaning the house or woodworking, and you’re probably going to be told those are a waste of time, too. (Why make my bed? I’m just going to mess it up tonight anyway.)

I believe everybody needs something to do that they enjoy. In an ideal world, they’re all able to do that something–have the time to be able to “waste” it on something they choose to do, not on something they must do. I know that when I take the time to do this, I’m generally able to focus more on the rest of my life when it needs my attention.

Though if I were playing Magic for seven hours every Saturday, that would be too much for me–three or four times a year? I can handle that. 🙂

Which then leads me to wonder, how much time is too much time? I don’t think there’s a hard and fast answer to that. Sometimes, you’ll have more time available. Is it wrong to enjoy those times to their fullest, knowing that you’ll be working non-stop in the future? It all depends on the person and the situation. For me, I try to have an hour or two of downtime each day, on average. I get this at the expense of sleep, usually–if I were sleeping as much as I ought to, I would have no downtime.

How about you–how much time do you give yourself, and what do you choose to do with it?

3 thoughts on “Is Downtime a Waste of Time?”

  1. I have fish. Tropical freshwater fish. They are contained to their little square box homes, I feed them once every other day. I spend 2-3 hours every two weeks or so draining most of the water out of the tanks and onto the lawn (fertilizing and watering it in one shot). Besides work, fish are what Eva considers my mistress.

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