On Making Time

Making time is getting harder as the years stack up.

The things that I wish I could make more time for are not particularly extravagant. Reading. Exercising. Preparing lunches and dinners in advance. Writing music. Studying foreign languages. Revisiting video games from my childhood. Diving into the history of cinema. Listening to lengthy post rock records without interruption.

I had a routine that I really liked towards the end of this summer. I woke around 06:00 every morning and began my daily bodyweight workout while listening to a non-fiction audiobook. After my workout I would work through the next section of my Japanese textbook, with some vocabulary and kanji drills before and after. I wouldn’t even think about food until noon, because I was practicing intermittent fasting, and I was amazed at how much time in my day had previously been taken up by thinking about food.

The next few hours of the afternoon were spent alternating between coding and reading technical articles and discussions. Somewhere between 15:00 and 16:00 I was ready to call it quits for the day, happy with what I had gotten done and comfortable spending what was left of the day doing whatever I felt like.

I was taking breaks every hour where I would walk around the block. The chronic back pain I had been suffering from was finally becoming a memory rather than my daily reality.

I spend around twenty hours of my week commuting now. While I still get up at 06:00, I’m out of the door before 07:00 which doesn’t leave enough time to exercise sensibly and safely. I try to use the morning commute to listen to a few chapters of an audiobook. Initially it was non-fiction, but for some reason I’ve found that fiction works better with my mood while I’m commuting.

I get home some time between 19:00 and 20:00. The commute on the way home is a lot more draining than the commute on the way to work. By the time I get home I’m ready to collapse, more mentally than physically. All the static sitting and standing throughout the day doesn’t do much to help my back, though.

I’m married, so I have to find some time to spend with my spouse, who most nights gets back home after I do. Since I’m up so early I also need to get to sleep relatively early as well. Preferably by 21:00, but at a stretch before 22:00. It’s hard for me to sleep well without clearing my mind beforehand. Reading before bed would be nice, and indeed it was before marriage.

This holiday season I’m spending most of my holiday days with my in-laws and away from my hometown, where I find myself increasingly wanting to go for some ‘me’ time. Usually that time isn’t so much downtime as it is time where I can work on something without interruption.

I woke up this morning with back pain after months of relief. The idea of going back to the sort of chronic back pain that I was living with every day this time last year is terrifying. My quality of life has rapidly deteriorated since September, when I started this new job in this new city and moved in with my spouse.

I don’t exercise. I eat shit. I’m slowly putting back on the 20kg that I worked all year to shed. I’m not working on improving my Japanese or any of my other second languages. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a musical instrument.

The environment that I’m in right now is sucking the life out of me. This city. The commute. The arguments. This filthy air. The constant noise.

Something has to change. I need to get back to summer.