What I did instead | AspenTimes.com

What I did instead

Barry Smith

What I wanted to do: Start playing my guitar again on a daily basis. Just 20 minutes a day is enough to feel like I’m really enjoying my hobby of many years, and I haven’t even touched my guitar in months and months. I just need to walk into the next room, pick it up, tune it (or not) and strum it a few times, and I’ll be back in the swing of it.

What I did instead: Dug out and organized my massive collection of guitar instructional DVDs, many of which were purchased during various fits of “get back into playing guitar on a daily basis” enthusiasm over the years. Some are still unopened. Once I stepped back to appreciate them all on the shelf, neatly arranged, it occurred to me that I don’t really use DVDs anymore and that I should begin the process of ripping them so that I can have them all available at my fingertips on my computer. I mapped out a workflow to rip, catalog, store and back up the resulting many gigs of data. Then I took a nap.

What I wanted to do: Quickly go online to figure out how to spell a word. My friend Patty got me a strudel for my birthday last week, and I was posting a little Facebook thank-you, but I realized that “strudel” was not a word I had ever written before or really even seen written or even thought about much (which is a shame, as they’re delicious), so, for some reason, I was trying to complicate it with extra vowels, like “streudle” or “struedel,” and nothing was working. So, I just want to pop open another browser window, get the proper spelling of a simple word, then pop back and complete my update. Easy.

What I did instead: I honestly don’t remember. The next thing I knew I had about 118 browser tabs open, covering everything from how to build raised garden beds to an oral history of The Velvet Underground — which is pretty much everything. And it was three days later. And I was hungry.

What I wanted to do: Get directly out of bed when the 6 a.m. alarm goes off, walk to the kitchen and drink two glasses of water in succession while feeling the gratitude of getting to be alive for another day, go upstairs and do an hour of yoga followed by a 20-minute sitting meditation, eat a quick breakfast of oatmeal (raisins and maple syrup) and green tea and then get to work on whatever is required of me during the day.

What I did instead: Slapped the alarm off, got up, took a leak and went back to bed for a few hours. Got up again, ate the last of the leftover strudel (sp?), checked email, walked around the house aimlessly for a while, scratched myself a bit, checked email again, took a really long, hot shower, sat on the couch to relax for a minute, fell asleep.

What I wanted to do: Take a short break from what I’m doing to get a quick snapshot of the cat, because she’s doing something really cute right now.

What I did instead: Took 73 pictures of the cat, including about nine minutes of video of her batting at something I couldn’t quite see. Played with her for the rest of the day.

What I wanted to do: Call each of my friends up and tell them how much I really love and appreciate them and how glad I am that, after all these years and in some cases geographical distance, we still keep in regular contact and that as time moves along, I realize that friendship is the most valuable thing there is and that my life has been made so much richer by their presence in it and that I look forward to many more years of laughing, growing and learning together.

What I did instead: Called my friends up and talked about how excited we are for the new “Game of Thrones” premiere.

What I wanted to do: Paint the house. Till the garden. Clean the shed. Tune up my bike. Clean the kitchen. Organize the office. Plant some trees. Repair the chicken coop. Do some laundry. Read a book. Answer emails. Return phone calls. Explore strange new worlds. Seek out new life and new civilizations. Boldly go where no one has gone before.

What I did instead: Rearranged my Netflix queue.

What I wanted to do: Write an entertaining, insightful and relatable column.

What I did instead: Wrote this column.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.


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