There’s an old saying and it’s that “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” or something like that.
When I was young and dumb and… well, when I was working. I got married after I had already served about six and a half years in the military. I joined when I was 17, only a few months after I graduated from high school.
Within a year after marriage, my wife (Josie) and I had our only child (Jon) together. I later adopted my stepson (Joe), who was a little over five years old back then.
Josie, Joe and Jon kept me busy when I wasn’t working, even after retirement from the military. It seemed like I never had enough time to do the things I wanted to do. With an average workday of eight to twelve hours, I never seemed to have enough time for anything other than work.
And then that magical day came. The day when I no longer had to work for a living.
Perhaps I didn’t think things through. I didn’t understand the ramifications of living a life without working. After nearly 30 years of working five days a week (usually six or seven), I was suddenly working zero days a week.
When I moved to the Philippines in 2006, the only thing I really thought about was all the time I now had to do all the things I wanted to do. It only took a couple of months to realize I didn’t actually have anything I wanted to do. Without work and children to raise (they were grown by then), life didn’t hold a lot of meaning for me.
That’s when doing things on the Internet became the time-killers I needed. At first, it was a struggle to get online. I had to use dial-up cards for months before getting a meager DSL connection. A DSL connection that started at about a half a megabit, when it worked right.
I started my first website (the first after moving here) while I was still on dial-up. I kept that website going for about seven years before shuttering it in favor of this one.
Writing articles and doing research has kept me busy for years, when I’ve had an Internet connection to work with. And that brings me to today’s point in all of this.
Today is Monday in the Philippines. I haven’t had an Internet connection since Wednesday morning. More than five days if you count part of today. My cell phone service gives me Facebook and Instagram as part of my plan, with text only messages for Facebook Messenger. I spent way too much time reading and watching videos on Facebook than I care to admit while waiting to get back online.
Yes, I could have gone to an Internet café. Yes, I could have bought a “load” so I could use my cell phone for more than what I got with my plan. I didn’t want to do either. I used my down time to do a few things I had neglected for a while.
Many of the people around me find ways to kill time. Some of them gamble. Others drink. Others play basketball. Some of them do all three. I don’t gamble or play basketball. I can’t drink like they drink, even when I want to. If it’s the right word to use, I lack the capacity for it.
I don’t know what other retirees do with their time while they’re living in the Philippines. I probably don’t want to know. Unlike some people, including those who aren’t retired, I can’t spend hours on end watching TV. Spending more than a few minutes at a time doing the cell phone zombie routine makes me want to pluck my eyes out.
The one thing I know is that I need a new hobby. One that doesn’t involve being connected to the Internet. One that won’t get me into trouble.