Entertainment vs. Enrichment: The dilemma of what to do with free time

Years ago, it was natural for me as a carefree student to perceive time as a seemingly inexhaustible resource. Surely, exams and deadlines occasionally threatened this belief, but like tropical storms, those periods were ephemeral. Back then, the doors of opportunity were still wide open, and I had the option of taking up any hobby that my allowance permitted.

Work inevitably put an end to this, and I was also forced to concede that nobody was getting any younger. Although the new source of income did open up a few other options, it was time which became the ultimate constraint. Having realized that one could not walk all paths simultaneously, I am now presented with the dilemma of what to do with my limited free time.

Should I choose the instant satisfaction offered by videogames, novels, anime, and comedy/drama series; or would I be better off investing time in more productive activities such as physical exercise, taking up martial arts, writing, learning Japanese, practicing with the camera, or, god forbid, improving programming skills?

Of course, the former is not necessarily all about self-gratification. Having spent countless hours myself on some of these vices, I'm aware that there is value in having a common experience that would facilitate socialization with peers. Also, few could deny the need for stress relief.

But I look ahead and wonder, “Decades from now, can I take pride in what I am currently doing? Would my memories of these activities serve me any purpose?”

Then I also look back and realize that it was while doing the former that I stumbled across Khalil Gibran's The Prophet and Ashinano Hitoshi's Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, two works of literature which helped define who I am now.




I think I'll just sleep.

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