I was sick all last week. I tried to go in to work, but the bug kept me home for a couple of days. And with a completely unplanned day off, I find myself turning to those things I kept putting off because of a lack of time.
Like re-watching The Godfather, Part 2.
This movie is three hours and forty minutes long. And you can tell. By the time the credits rolled, I felt like I had lived the months of time that the movie portrays. Not that I was bored, but that I felt fully involved in both the exciting and the quiet moments of Michael Corleone. It’s a great movie, not least of which is it’s bravery to give quiet scenes and long takes. But it got me to thinking that we don’t see many stories told this way, anymore. Even the Lord of the Rings trilogy, movies that stretch past four hours in their extended editions, still don’t present the audience with many shots that are longer than a few seconds.
I’d been putting off seeing the movie for months, mainly because I never felt I had that many hours in a row to string together into one thing. At least, after socializing, getting work done, and maintaining those other areas of my life. Being shocked out of my regular day-to-day gave me the opportunity. That got me thinking.
When I’m surfing the web, I will sometimes reconsider reading an article if it seems long. I’ll pause before watching a YouTube video if it gets over four minutes. (Some of this is a legitimate crap filter, helping keep out the stuff that’s not worth paying attention to online.) But when I’m not out with friends or with Jen, or working, what exactly am I worried about losing time on? Usually, organizing my desk, checking Facebook and e-mail, following Twitter, odd jobs, daily ephemera. Basically, nothing that could be defined as actual work with a clear accomplishment.
It’s like I’m leaving myself free for some unknown excellent event that will appear and fill my afternoon or evening with a delight, that I would miss if I were caught watching another YouTube video. But that’s not the case, is it? I think I’m just afraid to unplug from all my streams of information, even for four minutes to watch Monsterpeice Theatre’s ‘Waiting for Elmo.’
I wouldn’t trade away all this modern communication, but it’s certainly worth noting that our time has become both more costly (we’re choosy where we spend it) and devalued (we’ll pour it away waiting for something that we expect will be truly valuable). We’ve been conditioned, like Pavlov’s dog, to want and be hungry for the steady info-drips.