Last night I watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time. See? I told you I’d see it eventually.

Anyway the point of this post isn’t actually about the film itself it’s more about the setting. It starts in 1947 and has a man being incarcerated in a fairly friendly prison (compared to the much more brutal places that apparently exist in the US these days). Freedom is lost.

Except I found myself thinking – if you weren’t locked up, character that I kept forgetting the name of, what would you actually be doing with your life?

It’s the 1940s/50s, what is there to actually be doing?

Social interaction, sure, but what else? Travel is expensive, slow, and limited. Very few interesting consumer goods exist. The mass media is basically radio for the most part. Education is hard to come by and rather impenetrable. Creative pursuits are rather limited in scope due to the cost and availability of tools.

This contrasts with how I view the world today where I could give you a list of any number of things that are available. Cheap flights, TV and films available for virtually nothing on demand, any number of fun diversions, quick and easy access to education in all kinds of fields, and unprecedented access to creative tools.

I wonder how many things don’t get done now simply because boredom is so easy to avoid. Lots of young people did amazing things back then and I imagine that part of the reason they devoted so much time to their projects was simply because they had time and nothing better to be doing.

These days I could name any number of things one could be doing with one’s time, both productive and unproductive. I for one write a blog entry every day to improve my writing skills. That wouldn’t have been possible back then. Certainly I could have written every day but distributing it to the world would have been impossible.

It concerns me somewhat that my generation might be missing out on motivation due to this enormous buffet of distractions. Years slip by so quickly and I watch people I had considered friends do, well, nothing. They work unfulfilling jobs to pay their bills, watch some content, have a few drinks, go to the cinema, and then repeat it. Over and over.

How do people live like that? To me that’d be like being a prisoner. At least in prison the conditions aren’t directly self-imposed!

I work hard to fill my life with odd experiences and fun things. I do a strange job that leaves me with very little money but a lot of time. Time can be exchanged for money, certainly, but not the other way around. The value of my time as I grow older is going to decrease in some ways – I’m never going to be this young ever again. Neither are you. I’d rather enjoy time while I’m young than have it when I’ve retired. The tail end of life isn’t anywhere near as certain as now. That is to say I’m definitely alive at the moment whereas I’ll only probably be alive in the future.

fireshrimpNow you must excuse me while I pretend to be a fire shrimp.

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