The other night *h and I watched the movie Allied. Non spoiler alert- I won’t give away the plot, because it mostly had no plot. I will say, in defense of the movie, that we didn’t watch the last half hour of it, so it very well could be one of those flicks that has such an epic ending that it makes the entire rest of the movie worth watching. However…
It was the type of movie where you kept waiting for it to start. Every few minutes, for maybe the first hour or so, *h and I glanced at each other as if to say, “Is it just me? Am I missing something here? Is this the set up for the movie, or the actual movie?” I felt worse for *h than myself, since he prefers to see something explode within the first 11 seconds of a movie, or at the very least a screaming car chase, whereas this felt more like embarking on War and Peace- perhaps in Swahili.
But here’s where I feel like it’s a very good illustration of what we do in real life. We spend a lot of time watching it go by, waiting for it to get started. We observe the events from a distance, while time is passing, perplexed as to why we aren’t having more fun. We “throw good money after bad” because once we are invested in something we want to just see it through.
I used to eat like this. I would take a bite of something, and even if it wasn’t delicious, I would keep eating it because that’s what was in front of me. Like, say I was excited about having a jelly donut. I would think for however long about how good that donut would taste. I would imagine the texture of it. But if I bit into it and it was eh, I would still keep eating it because I finally got the donut. And I would eat Every Single Bite. Now I taste stuff and if it doesn’t wow me, I put it down. Why bother with food that isn’t great? Unless you are truly starving, or in a position where you don’t have another opportunity to eat for a while (like on an airplane), calories need to be splurged on stuff that’s delicious. But I digress…
To bring it back on topic:
Your time should be splurged like this too. There are plenty of have-to things in life. If you have to take your kids to the pediatrician, you really have no choice over how long you sit in the waiting room. You aren’t asked for your input over how many minutes you would like the doctor to keep you hanging around once you are in the exam room or how many germs you want to be exposed to while you are there. There are plenty of opportunities to “suck it up” in multiple areas of life. So when you do have choices, it seems a shame not to put some thought into them, and to just live your life on autopilot.
As people we tend to get very attached to something we have invested time in. If you start a recipe, even if the ingredients cost 28 cents, you gosh darn want people to taste that recipe even if it’s a flop and it takes you hours to fix it. If you get into a book you want to see how it turns out because now it’s YOUR book, regardless of what else you could be doing beside plodding through the next however many pages. And if you start a movie, even if it’s a d-u-d, you want to see it through til the end, even if it’s 9 hours long, like Allied was (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration), has no discernible plot, and is making you regret having eyeballs.
Certainly there are important things in life that one should see through. It’s not okay to drop out of school because it doesn’t thrill you every second. It would be unconscionable to stop parenting because it isn’t always gratifying. But sometimes with things that are unimportant and optional, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop and ask if what you are doing is something that is bringing you joy and satisfaction, or if it wouldn’t be better to cut your losses.
Because not every jelly donut is delicious. And some Allies are not your friends.