Over the weekend, as thousands of people paraded around downtown Salt Lake City in strange costumes, most of which I didn’t recognize, I wondered why I had absolutely no desire to dress up like a giant Mutant Ninja Turtle and stand in long lines to wander around Comic Con at the Salt Palace.
I’m sure most of the answer is that I’m a boring old stick-in-the-mud, and I’m just not interested. But my disinterest is probably indicative of a deeper character flaw that I’ve recognized in myself for many years. The truth is, I just have a hard time kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying inconsequential things, whether it’s Comic Con, movies, TV shows, pop culture, sitting around and making small talk, or even vacations. Yes, I’m weird that way. If I’m not doing something productive, something to “get ahead in life,” then I get edgy, my legs get twitchy, and I start glancing at my watch.
Some people might consider this to be a strength, because I don’t waste a lot of time. But it’s probably more of a defect. Although I don’t practice what I preach, I firmly believe that one of the keys to being a happy person is finding joy in little things, inconsequential things . . . stopping to smell the roses, enjoying a low-key conversation about nothing in particular, a grandchild falling sleep in one’s lap. The truth is that no one’s life can consist entirely of work and doing important things 24 hours a day.
I’m so bad that I hardly ever take vacations and, when I do, it takes a couple of days to decompress and stop feeling guilty about not working. For most of my life, I’ve had the goal of never visiting Disneyland. But, for the sake of the grandkids, my family kidnapped me and forced me to go. I’m still resentful.
I used to enjoy watching Seinfeld – the show about nothing. But part of it was that I was charmed by people so dramatically different than me. Seinfeld plots revolved entirely around the inane and inconsequential. Its characters could sit around a restaurant table and babble on about nothing and make it funny and entertaining. I couldn’t relate, but I found it fascinating.
I do enjoy fishing, hiking, doing farm work, sitting for a few minutes in the stillness of a forest, and reading a good book. But I enjoy these escapes only because a grizzled old philosopher once told me that time spent fishing (and I include hiking, farming, reading and gardening) cannot be deducted from a person’s life.
At any rate, I acknowledge being highly deficient in the ability to relax and enjoy inconsequential things. It is a serious flaw in my emotional health.
Like Seinfeld, Comic Con is really about nothing. When you go to Comic Con you’re not doing anything to get ahead in life, make more money, contribute to society, or make the world a better place.
But maybe that’s the point. Everyone needs to escape once in a while.
So be glad you’re not like me. Stuck in my sad, hyper-driven life.
And I hope you had a great time at Comic Con. I hope you went home fulfilled and happy. I envy you. But expect that time spent there WILL be deducted from your life.