There’s this thing about working in game development where you work lots of overtime and then at the end of the project, sometimes the Overlords will be kind enough to give you that time back. They call it comp time. Because, you know, they are compensating you for all the extra time you put in.
This isn’t unique to the games industry of course. But regardless of the industry, the fact is IT’S ALL A LIE.
You can’t give time back. Time used is gone forever. It’s irreplaceable. Sure you might get a few extra days to kick back and relax (or to finally do laundry! or shower!!), but that doesn’t do anything to give you back the nights you didn’t tuck your kids in, or the weekends you sent your significant other off on a vacation without you, or the opportunities you missed to pursue that side-business, or the meals you skipped, or the exercise you didn’t do.
Just another way that The Man is keeping us all down and stealing our dreams and keeping us sedated so we don’t realize it.
Except it’s not just The Man. We do it to ourselves all the time. We put off doing the things we know we should and promise we’ll double down tomorrow. Or next week. Or for the New Year. But that’s not really how it works.
Every day that we spend not reading to our children, or listening to our spouse, or praying, or Doing The Work is another day we gave up to do something else, like watch reality TV. Which ISN’T EVEN REALITY (spoiler).
As much as I want to, I can’t go back and cram five days of intense Lego-building into the lives of my kids and think that’s going to somehow undo the three weeks I spent on a business trip. Those three weeks are gone. I can’t go a month of avoiding The Novel and think that I can make up for it with a flurry of Intense Devotion the next month. Ignoring your blog for two weeks and then writing five posts in a row doesn’t bring back the people who gave up looking at the same old posts on Day 10.
(I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ME!) (I’ve never written five posts in a row, so don’t talk to me that way, self!)
All that said, there’s no reason to beat ourselves up when we haven’t been as diligent as we would’ve liked, or haven’t devoted time to the things we really wish we had. There’s a saying that I really like that I totally just invented right now which is trademarked TM me that goes:
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
(Google may tell you that this is actually an ancient Chinese proverb, but I like to think of it more as spontaneous, completely independent invention, which I thought of totally on my own, at the exact moment or possibly the split-second after I read it somewhere else.)
Which is all just a way to remind myself that tonight is a Writing Night, not a Refresh Twitter Constantly one.