What’s Your Thing?

Last weekend, I took my three sons to the Cub Scout food drive. As we were standing around and waiting for our assignments, one of my boys was talking to another scout and told him that I had beaten the game Batman Arkham City on the PlayStation. The other boy looked to me and asked, “Really?” to which I said, “Yes.” His father was standing nearby and asked the question that I have heard many times.

“How do you find the time for that?”

His question was genuine and unassuming. He knows what kind of schedule I keep. I have the privilege of working for a fantastic company doing a job that I love. I have a demanding role in my company with a team of people to manage. All of these things lead to a 60-hour work week. That’s a pure 60 too, not counting drive time. Add to that the fact that I’ve got not one but two jobs in our Cub Scout pack, and I have four kids to be a dad to.

So how do I do it? Well, video gaming is my thing. I believe everyone has a thing. In fact we have multiple things, but some are more important than others. Before I had kids, wakeboarding was one of my things, I’d go out on the boat on a Saturday for 6 hours at a time. Golf was one of my things, and so was hockey. Sunday afternoons were spent golfing, and Sunday nights were spent playing hockey. Yeah, I had nothing but time back then. Over time, I’ve been forced to have fewer and fewer things.

Now I find myself to be a model of efficiency. I TiVo some of the programs I like to watch upstairs so that when I fold laundry on the weekend I can watch them. I am typing this blog while watching TV on my couch. I also watch TV while washing dishes or cleaning the kitchen. So, to sum up, I only get to watch TV when I’m doing something else. When I receive my PlayStation magazine I hold onto it and only read it when I have a plane to catch. When I run errands I combine them into as few trips as possible. In addition to the things that I do to save time, here are some of the things I don’t do:
• I don’t watch college sports…..ever.
• The first NFL football game I watch every year is on Thanksgiving.
• I don’t watch anything live; I TiVo everything so I can cut through commercials.
• I have never played any fantasy sports.
• I’ve never had a cup of coffee, so I don’t spend any time in coffee shops.
• I don’t drink alcohol, so I don’t spend any time in bars.
• I don’t have a mistress.

So when I have free time, I like to play video games. Often I also have to make a compromise by cutting down on my sleep as well. Video games are my thing. I see people waiting in line at Starbucks to get coffee, and I wonder how many hours a month they spend waiting for that cup of Joe. If you are a football fan and you watch one game a week, that’s three hours, not counting Monday Night Football, Thursday night football or Sunday night prime time football. Some people like to go to the movies, and that’s a several hour undertaking. Book clubs, golf games, concerts, monster truck rallies – they are all fine ways to pass your time, if that’s your thing. The only sad thing is when a person has no thing. What annoys me is when people disparage somebody else’s thing. If you collect stamps, then good for you. I don’t understand you, but I understand your need to have a thing.

Now, I felt fine about the gentleman at Cub Scouts asking me how I found time because it was a genuine question. There are others that would tell you “I could never do that because I don’t have time, I’m too busy.” The inference is that they are busier than you, and I’ll put the demands on my time up against anyone else’s. I once spoke to Damon from the Chicago airport and told him that my plane was landing at 8:30 at night and that I should be on the network and gaming with him by 10pm. When I fired up the PlayStation that night I had been awake for 18 hours and traveled more than 2,000 miles.

So when somebody tells me they are busier than I am I just ask myself “I wonder what their thing is?” Because they may not be considering some of the things they do a thing. We have a way of rationalizing that way. Ordering pizza and sitting on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars is a thing whether you think it is or not. So is following everything Twilight.

So before we judge what somebody does with his or her time or declare ourselves too busy to have fun, we need to really assess what we do with our time. I see this all the time with people that use this as an excuse for why they can’t volunteer their time or why they expect somebody else to do the work. They justify it by saying they are too busy without any understanding of how busy everybody else is. I guess knowing that I beat the latest Batman game must mean I’m swimming in free time. I’ll remember that when I’m folding clothes on Sunday afternoon and catching up on Boardwalk Empire.