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Keeping your hands busy

Thursday, 02 October, 2008

One subject which tends to dominate my headspace is the question of what I do with my time, and whether it's time well-spent (I hear the echoes of Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5, though I'm taking them slightly out of context). There are some things on which time must be spent—sleeping, eating, working, travelling, going to church and Bible study, keeping oneself appropriately groomed to the level of hygiene expected by one's society, etc. But there are other times that don't fit into these categories: leisure time, potter time, time to dedicate oneself to other interests and pursuits ... restorative activities.

I have a lot of interests and pursuits. Some I naturally gravitate towards because of personal preference (books, movies, music, writing, knitting). Others I invest the time in because they hold value for me (e.g. Word by Word and, to some extent, knitting). But I start to wonder what do you do when the investment you have placed in something fails to give you the return you expected—or rather, the return you need to make the investment worthwhile. (This is tangentially related to my givers and takers post.)

Take knitting, for example. I knit because it's fun, it's relaxing, it's creative and I get a kick out of making things, giving people things (hand-made, for some reason, always elicits greater delight than if you bought something in a store—probably because of the time and effort you put into it) and inventing new things (even if some of them fail). Oh, and it's something that keeps my hands busy when I watch television. I like to think it also helps me concentrate but I have no proof.

Then other people started to infringe on the knitting. Some suggested I should knit for charity. Some suggested I should knit to help other ministries. Some suggested I should knit gifts for this group of people I've never considered before. Some suggested I should sell what I make (well, we've already seen how that turned out. And I listened to some of those well-meaning people.

Then I noticed something: I wasn't getting the return for my investment that I used to. It was starting to become a chore rather than a pleasure. I found myself reluctant to do certain things I'd promised to do.

And this sort of ruined the exercise: I knitted because I enjoyed it—because I loved creating and making and inventing. I think the element I was missing was the freedom: I wanted an activity where I was free to choose what I wanted to do instead of being hampered by somebody's restrictions. There was the return on my investment. There was the thing that made it worthwhile.

So what's the solution? I should probably think more about what I say yes to when it comes to things like knitting. I should consider carefully what it's going to cost me, and whether the proposed activity aligns with my reasons for doing what I do. And perhaps I should modify what I'm doing so that I do get more of a return instead of feeling like I am continually being drained.

Thoughts?

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I think it’s something you work out only by getting into that situation. I’ve been there, and learned to say - I’m not enjoying X anymore… why was I doing X and how important is X? And if the demands of other people’s wishes and suggestions and deadlines interfere with both that reason and other things that are more important, then I don’t agree to them in future. It sounds like you knit for relaxation and creativity, to rest and recreate for the rest of life, and the extra obligations imposed on knitting ruin both the r&r;and (therefore) hurt other areas of your life.
It’s the sort of thing you learn by trial and error. I’ve had to learn to make extra activities based on those things a default ‘no’, and then have a really good reason if I change that.

*struggles to express thought coherently*  What Kathleen said. ;p If your enjoyment of the activity is suffering because of the pressure other people’s suggestions place on it, then perhaps you should cut back on accepting those suggestions. I now have a default response of “no” to most suggestions that I offer the things I do to relax or for my own enjoyment in the service of something or someone else. Not that this stops me offering to do things but I know it’s easy to feel like you should do something because people have suggested that it might help.

This has nothing to do with your post, but I am clueless as to what to do with your feed things on here up there in the corner, and can no longer get this blog in google reader. So, can you enlighten me as to what I might do with that html stuff up there? smile

Regarding Google Reader:

Click on “Add subscription” (LHS menu).

Copy and paste the relevant feed URL. My blog is complicated because there are four:

Click “Add” and you’re done!

Thanks for this. I have it all sorted! I wonder why all that other html stuff comes up whenever I look at other rss feeds, when it’s that simple ...



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