I listened to music today. I honestly, hand on heart cannot remember the last time I had listened to music. I got out my phone at lunchtime, and then thought no. The podcasts and audio books can stop jabbering at me for a day. The iPod nano’s jack (tres retro) was de-crumbed and plugged in. I clicked shuffle, and it was euphoric. I imagined this is what hearing music after being trapped in a bunker for months sounded like. I had forgotten how good it sounded. And it was in my bag this whole time. I sang along, belted my faves, felt exhilarated by the rhythms and the lyrics again.
I hadn’t let myself listen to music for so long because music is down-time. Downtime is for people who are not trying muster all their might to get somewhere, anywhere else. Downtime is for the content. I am not content. If I’m doing downtime, I’m not using every eye-blinking second to succeed. I’m not emailing, or brainstorming, or writing, or tweeting, or doing reccy on the socials.
To stab it with a blunt knife, I think I’m not deserving of downtime – I haven’t earned the right to do the things I love because I’m not yet where I want to be. This, in my millennially brain-washed head, makes perfect sense. Because we have been brought up with the mantra ‘hard work equates to success‘. Pounded in, engrained, embedded.
The ironic little stickler is that studies have shown downtime actually improves productivity. But as this article in the NY times states, ‘downtime is typically viewed as time wasted.’ It is for people who do what they do on a day to day basis to get to a goal. My day job is a role I have experience in, and will do for the time being, but it is not the be all and end all. If I want to get to where I need to be, I need to put in the hours. And these hours unfortunately fall in the region of the standard ones set for said downtime.
I do, on occasion, make time to relax. These two things are a horse of a different colour in my books. I take baths, I paint nails, watch crappy tele, but these things invoke autopilot, slobbery, not something that cheers me up and makes me feel giddy again. Downtime does that. Reading India Knight or Caitlin Moran and snorting, putting on an old Blackadder VHS instead of turning on The One Show, finding a new songstress who makes me message my Cousin instantly to say, “HAVE YOU HEARD OF BLAH BLAH? IT’S LIKE HONEY IS DRIPPING INTO MY EAR CAVITIES”. And in essence then, downtime requires a bit more vigour than relaxing. It requires searching for the fun, and that’s just not something I have the brain capacity for after slaving away trying and failing and thinking all the live long day, let alone feel is justifiable.
But today, as the honey trickled back into my ears, I remembered how much making the time matters, how much the music missed me, how much I deserve downtime.