There is nothing like fly-fishing in a lazy river or burbling creek for quiet contemplation, relaxation, and mental restoration. This particular hobby is not my thing as an adult, but I certainly enjoyed doing it with my father 35-40 years ago.
Time alone is not something to avoid or fear. Indeed, average guys working to kick up their everyday style several notches should consider having more time to themselves than has become typical in our over-connected, wired age when too many people seem to feel as though they are missing out on something if they are not always busy, busy, busy. . . and social, social, social. I'm hardly suggesting that anyone shun family and friends to become a complete hermit. Let's not take my observation, or suggestions below, to extremes. But downtime spent by oneself allows for vital recharging of the mental batteries, self-reflection, and the opportunity to enjoy those activities you enjoy, but probably don't have enough time to indulge as much as you might like.
Think of it this way. Thanks to technology, with all of its associated personal gadgets, and the fact that, for many of us, the clear distinction between work and home life has largely disappeared, we are constantly overstimulated by things and, yes, by each other. Most of us lack the time to slow down, take in the scenery, and actually hear ourselves think. The unfortunate result is that our internal seas are rarely calm anymore.
It's very similar to when you brush a cat. While "Fluffy" might love the attention and purr loudly as the brush moves through her fur and across her sides and back, at some point she becomes overstimulated and bites your hand. The same thing happens with small children, who might enjoy the fun for several hours, whatever form that might take, but at some point, they too become overstimulated, and the inevitable meltdown follows close behind.
While adults -- most of us at least -- don't typically react like that, we too become overstimulated by the demands of work. . . and family if we are honest with ourselves. That is why time alone, an hour or two in the evenings during the week if possible, and longer during weekends or holidays, is so important. Perhaps that is something too easily forgotten in the terminal rush that has become everyday life in the early 21st century when we allow ourselves to be pulled constantly in too many directions at once. In that light, turning off, unplugging, and tuning out, at least for a while, is necessary for a person's well-being more now than ever before.
Likewise, it is time for us to stop feeling guilty for saying "No, thank you." to invitations from friends and family to do this or that and, where the children are concerned, perhaps to say, "No" and "Not now" more than has become the accepted norm if articles online and in newspapers and magazines are anything to go by. Constantly chauffering little Bobby and Cindy around to too many organized afterschool and evening activities is tiring for for parents, overstimulating to the children, and simply pulls everyone in too many different directions at once.
An extracurricular pursuit, or maybe two, is fine if schoolwork does not suffer, and it does not begin to take over Mom's and Dad's lives. However, the kids too need to learn that quiet, solitary pursuits are at least as important as the midget league soccer tournaments and tiny princess pageants. . . if not more so. Know what I mean? Sure, activities like these have the potential to foster a range of useful skills and abilities besides being simple fun. But let's stop overcompensating as parents for some imagined something or other by overscheduling everyone in the family. It's not necessarily a good thing when parental anxieties drive the sheer number of activities that consume too many children and teenagers, along with their parents, in 2014. Constant revving in high gear is more harmful than we might first think.
Whether you have a family, are in a committed relationship, or simply have a bunch of closely knit friends, you do not need to be joined at the hip all of the the time. See a bit less of each each other and spend a little more time alone, engaged in those various pursuits for which we wish we had more time. Allow each other to have some personal space and time. Avoid being quite so wrapped up in the minutia of each others' lives and activities 24/7. It is extremely healthy. Honest. Not only does routine disengagement enable you to recharge, but, at the very least, time away from each other, during which you are focused on other enjoyable things, permits more interesting conversation once you are together again around the dinner table in the evening when you can update each other on all of the cool, interesting things you've done recently.
Here's one important caveat to remember though. Don't make the mistake of filling your downtime with TV, answering e-mail, Facebook, or other online social media, and/or computer games. Those do not count. They are too passive and too easy. Give yourself a clean and complete break from that kind of thing for a few hours each week instead. Longer if you can manage it. Take a walk around town or the local park, go on a hike through the countryside, go fishing, hop on your bike for an hour or two or hit the slopes, pick up an actual, physical book (NOT your Kindle or Nook), or simply sit and watch the world go by in quiet contemplation for a few hours as you sip coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and read the paper at a local cafe.
Or here's an idea. Take the opportunity to develop and cultivate new consuming interests that you might enjoy by yourself for several hours each week. There is no time like the present, but the goal to keep sight of is quiet disconnection from the usual activities and stressors of daily life. You'll soon see that time to oneself is just as refreshing as ten hours of uninterrupted sleep, enabling you to return to the cheek-by-jowl activities of family, friends, and work with renewed interest, vigor, and focus.
As for me, I'm off to do some painting, maybe get a bike ride in this afternoon, and, later this evening, read a chapter or two before turning out the lamp. Of course, there will be family time in there too, but also Heinz-Ulrich time. And that is ok. Try it yourself. I guarantee a bit more unplugged time alone will have a calming effect and improve your outlook on life.
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