Five Hours

It’s quite dangerous for me to be up at this hour… but sometimes (or oftentimes) I find myself occupied with something while the TV is on in the background and the time will drift to about 2 or 3am.  The danger, you ask? Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever watched TV at this hour, but if you have, you’d know right away that they play a ton of infomercials in the wee hours of the night. And I’m a sucker for infomercials.  What?  That little contraption can mix, dice and chop? Before you know it, usually in the next 5 minutes (since that’s the time limit I’m given until the special offer expires), I’m on the phone giving my credit card number to some customer service representative who is eager to sell me one more product for just $29.99 plus shipping and handling of some obscene amount.  Okay, it’s not that bad anymore since I’ve learned my lesson one too many times.  But I admit that my eyes still widen and my ears get a little extra attentive when an infomercial comes on.  Man, these people know what they’re doing.  Especially to poor, little, weak, innocent consumers like me. (Right.)

Most recently, I’ve noticed commercials very late at night for 5-Hour Energy.  It’s not an infomercial, per se, but it’s a rather strategic placement for an audience still up at 3 in the morning.  I have nothing particularly against 5-Hour Energy.  People need a boost sometimes, and there are situations when it’s important to be wide awake and efficient.  Some people drink coffee, others take 5-Hour Energy.  I’ve seen some controversial reporting on this product, but it’s not any more or less than the confusing messages we receive daily about the latest harmful or beneficial food or drink.  Plus, I’ve never actually consumed 5-Hour Energy so I have no basis for judgment. 

Tonight, between 2 and 3am, I saw this 5-Hour Energy commercial about 5 times; the last couple of times it was on, I tried to distract myself.  Something about this commercial really, really bothers me.  The premise of this commercial is that one can maximize productivity and efficiency for 5 hours when supplied with the nutrients of 5-Hour Energy.  This guy in the commercial does it all… and I mean ALL.  As in, he runs 10 miles while knitting a sweater, for crying out loud.  And then he says at the end, “Wait ’til you see the next 5 hours.” 

Who doesn’t appreciate some productivity these days?  Time is absolutely of the essence to me.  It seems amazing to be able do so much in just a few hours so I can get a lot more done in the next few hours.  That almost seems like a dream come true, especially because lately, I’m finding that I’m not much of a multi-tasker (not exactly anything you wanna say at a job interview).  Though I do love to sleep, I also confess that I stay up late into the night because somewhere deep inside, I believe sleeping is a waste of time.  After all, if I was sleeping right now instead of writing this I’d have one less blog post in the morning.  Am I wrong?  

It’s hard to argue with a self that values productivity.  I was groomed this way, by way of family, culture and society.  More is better.  I do more so I can get more so I can have more. More, more, more. 

What I find ironic is that while doing more, I tend to miss that much more.  When I prioritize productivity I miss out on the things that actually matter in life.  Like sitting with a friend over coffee and catching up on life without keeping an eye on the clock. Or getting engrossed in a really good book while curled up on the couch.  Or enjoying some greenery at the park.  Or petting a really cute doggie on the street.  Or really listening to an album (yes, an entire album!) of blissful music, paying attention to the melodies weaving in and out, harmonies and instruments and voices and lyrics.  Or just sitting with someone who is grieving.  Or grieving myself.  Or looking into the eyes of someone I love and letting the gaze do all the talking.  Or asking a hard question about an age-old belief that will probably never resolve but so helpful to discuss at length.  Or appreciating a delicious dish before me and recognizing the effort, ingredients and care that went into preparing it.  I can go on…

Reading that list over again, none of it seems very “productive”.  I don’t feel efficient doing any of that, and if I did, I would probably feel very wrong about it.  I never want any of those things to be an item to check off on my To-Do-List.  So how would 5-Hour Energy help me really improve this quality of life?  Of course, I’m not in any way suggesting that we do away with productivity altogether, but I am suggesting that we pause for a moment and look at productivity through a different lens.  Hold it with vulnerable hands.  Breathe life into it and not let it be bigger than it actually is.  

We aren’t meant to run 10 miles while knitting a sweater.  At least, I’m not.  And I don’t want to.  Part of life is accepting that I can only do one thing at a time and if I don’t get to that other thing, learning to let go.  And the next time someone tells me that I need to do more, I want to have the courage to pause and reflect, no matter which way I decide to go. 

When that last 5-Hour Energy commercial I saw tonight ended, the next commercial was for ‘Unisom’, the sleeping aid.  Go figure. 

That in itself is a whole other blog post but it’s 4:10am now and it is time to go to bed. 

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