Embarrassment of Riches

This is truly a great time to be alive.

Well, for me, anyway. If you don’t feel the same as I do, I am deeply sorry. I know that everyone’s worldview is affected by their current circumstances. At many points in my life, which has spanned more than five decades now, I could not have made the above statement and truly meant it, although I’m sure that there were other people who could. So, I guess this entire paragraph is meant as a disclaimer. I’m not an insensitive jerk who doesn’t understand that each person’s perception determines their reality. I’m just making a personal statement about my reality. At this moment. Knowing that things could change and probably will at some point. Shit. Now I’m depressed.

However, this is truly a great time for me to be alive.

My mantra for, I don’t know, maybe a year or so now has been this: Happiness is having something to look forward to.

It’s something I borrowed from somewhere else, of course. Not something I came up with on my own. A meme perhaps, or some epigram which I read on-line. Perhaps something someone said on television. Now that I think about it, I’m almost certain it was an interview with someone on television. It doesn’t matter. I heard it, then I appropriated it. Stole it, if you prefer. But, I’m not plagiarising it, because I’m not presenting it as an original creation.

For the first time in three decades, I’m working a job that doesn’t take up more than forty hours of my week unless I want it to, which gives me, comparably, an enormous amount of free time. Roughly, eight hours a day when I’m working. 480 minutes. That’s more time to spend with family and loved ones. More time to read and write. More time in general.

Because I like short, pithy statements to serve as my own source code, my own central algorithm that serves as my internal guide, much as the Laws of Robotics govern the actions of the robots in Asimov’s fiction, I have adopted the following philosophy to assist me in filling the hours that I’m not working or sleeping.

Read, Play, Watch.

My thesis is that all of us are seeking entertainment of one sort or another to help fill the hours of the day. I would love to say that I spend all of those hours staying active and keeping my body in tiptop condition, but who am I kidding here? I spend much of my free time reading, playing video games, or watching movies and television shows. I know I’m not alone in this. The pursuit of entertainment is, I believe, a universal pursuit, after the lower needs on that Maslow pyramid thing are met.

This ties in to my earlier quote about happiness because, as an inveterate list-maker, a skill honed through decades of middle-management, I even like to plan most of my entertainment. I have a computer file in which I have most of 2017 plotted out in full, and through the end of 2018 partially. I plan for about two hours a day for watching whatever movies or television shows that are on deck, and usually about a chapter a week for each book I’m reading. I don’t really plan out my video game playing time, and that varies, but when I’m looking forward (see: definition of happiness) to a new game coming out, I plan for that as well.

If this sounds like obsessive behavior to you, I completely understand. It does to me as well. But part of true wisdom is knowing yourself, and I know that making plans and then crossing things off the list makes me happy. It’s how I’m wired. I’ve written about this before. It should come as no surprise to you that I’ve planned to write this post for a while now.

Not that I have any problem with changing plans. I do that all of the time, and it doesn’t send me into a doom spiral. Plans must be, by nature, fluid. Other things come up, or, as often happens, I find I have time to squeeze in another program or chapter or blog post, which can move an item from next week to the current week. I still get a sense of satisfaction in completing an item on the list.

I know what current television shows I’m watching and which ones are returning in the fall that I want to watch, so that takes up many spaces on my list. DVR and streaming services allow me to deviate from the broadcast schedule. There are new shows such as Inhumans, Star Trek: Discovery, and The Orville that I plan to give a try soon. Also Defenders and the second seasons of Stranger Things and The Crown. Many others. Game of Thrones is continuing now, as I write this, but I’m going to wait to watch it as I have the other seasons.

I also have a backlog of shows that I’m watching. I’m only four episodes away from completing the final season of Sons of Anarchy, which I will finish up this week and then write a review of it. I’m currently catching up on iZombie, which I like a lot and plan to be current on before the next season begins. And, I’ve got a grand plan to watch every episode of every Star Trek series in existence. I’m currently past the midpoint of season two of Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise, and I’m saving the original series and the animated continuation of the same for a later date. I’m also deep into season one of Gilmore Girls, a series that was on for seven seasons. I know that seems like an odd choice for someone whose tastes seem to favor speculative fiction, but I do like the show.

There are many reasons why this is a great time for me to be alive. I’m in a loving relationship. I work at a job that doesn’t seem to be crushing my soul the way retailing management did. I have more life balance.

And, also, there is an embarassment of riches when it comes to choices in entertainment. Truly a first-world problem. There are so many options out there that I find myself postponing gratification when making my lists. Some of the television shows returning this fall will probably be on Netflix before I watch them. There are just so many choices.

A good problem to have when one of your major concerns is staving off boredom. I can only hope to be embarassed by riches for the rest of my life. As long as I can, I will keep looking forward.

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