Saturday, March 25, 2023

Is Time the Most Valuable Resource a Kid Has That an Adult Doesn’t?


Scott D. Parker

I’ve been thinking about this off and on for a few weeks now. It stemmed from multiple sources, but a comment from one of my fellow book club members really sparked the idea.

We were talking about The Mandalorian—which, on 7 March when we had our meeting, had only aired one episode of the current season, its third—when my friend made the following paraphrased comment: In order to keep up with all the Star Wars content coming at us via movies, live-action TV, animated TV, comics, and video games, you’d almost have to be a teenager with no life in order to have the time to consume all this stuff.

That struck a chord with me. It also folded in on my realization that audiobooks is the primary means by which I consume a book. (I won’t use the word ‘reading’ because I’m not actually reading.) The time where I literally sit and read a book has become a slim part of my life.

Which is odd because I’ve always been a reader. Back in the day, I would spend hours just reading nearly anything from the Hardy Boys and the Three Investigator to Star Wars and Star Trek stuff to the fantasy novels of Piers Anthony or the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Throw in comics and I was reading all the time.


Because I had the time.

And the passion of new discovery. There’s nothing like the discovery of something new you just love. You find yourself consuming all that you can find. Back in the day after I learned I loved reading, the whole world opened up and I just read and read and read. All the time. Because I had the time.

Let’s not kid ourselves, however. There were plenty of days when the minutes crept on like hours and it seemed like an eternity until dinner and prime time TV. There were plenty of boring days, but what would you give to have a few days like that nowadays?

Or fewer things to distract you.

There Were Fewer Media Distractions

There were only three channels plus PBS and the UHF channels so if my parents wanted to watch something and I didn’t, I could choose to read something. Granted, there were plenty of days in which I watched whatever was on because it was on. How else do we memorize so many Bugs Bunny one-liners or just how many times Tom the Cat spoke in those old cartoons or that Mrs. Kravitz was nosy neighbor on Bewitched.

Up until I got my first Walkman, music was something that was on the radio or on an album, and albums could only be played on my stereo at home. So, when I listened to a record, I’d put one on and then read in the same room. As for the number of albums I owned, well, an allowance can only go so far and, thus, I didn’t own all that many and a good percentage were soundtracks featuring the music of John Williams.

Of course, the internet didn’t exist as we know it today to say nothing of streaming or DVDs or even VHS tapes. Before any of us could drive on our own, we were subject to our parents’ (or older siblings; I am an only child) schedules to take us to a mall or a movie theater.

Then again, as one of my book club guys pointed out, kids did have commitments that could eat up time. He was an active in Boy Scouts and chose to give up piano lessons so that he could have time for scouting as well as school-based academic clubs. He still found the time to read, however, and that was the point another guy in the book club made.

Adults Have to Choose

As we grow up, we learn more things about the world and what we have to do to live in it. We learn about paying bills, going to a job five days a week, driving our kids to various events, or volunteering to sell popcorn at football games. The older we get, the more things fill up our calendar. Just this past week, I had rehearsal three out of the five workdays. Enjoyed playing the sax, but it was time away from home and doing other things.

My friend pointed out that we adult have to choose to carve out time to focus on things you enjoy. If you don’t make time, he said, there won’t be any. And, often, we adult just don’t make enough money for everything they want to do so certain things get left behind.

Kids largely don’t suffer from this conundrum. In the words of my friend, they don’t sit down to do something fun and then think how they really should pay the bill or unload the dishwasher. We adults, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about the dishes.

Well, I can and do, but then my time is spent playing guitar or watching something. Not, however, often reading.

What about y’all? Do you find yourselves reading as much as or more than you used to? What do you do to make time to read or do the things you really enjoy?

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