After hearing he was bored for the 1,000th time, I told him that he needed a hobby. He told me he didn’t know any. So I suggested some. Stupid idea. That is only an invitation to be shot down, because, of course, I know nothing. That fact has been well established. So I told him to try searching for one on Google. That he understands.
I felt hopeful when I heard him typing away in the next room, but what he came to me with was a list of websites that listed playing Xbox as a hobby. If the internet says it, it must be true. I responded that somewhere the internet says that raising llamas is a great hobby, and a lucrative one to boot, but I wasn’t going to let him do that, either.
So I asked him what he daydreamed of, thinking that would lead to something he might like to learn, or try. And that when he said that he doesn’t daydream.
I was sort of stunned by the revelation. I spent half my time daydreaming at his age. Daydreaming got me through a lot of really boring classes, and menial jobs with low wages and lots of busy work. It was a great way to try on other lives–a rock star, a figure skater, a treasure hunter. I knew I’d never be any of those things, but they showed me what I was missing, what I needed to fit into my life. He doesn’t have even one?
He likes playing Xbox, and in theory, I have no problem with that. We limit the time he can play, and he’s a rule follower, so he sticks to the timeline. It’s just that the worlds he plays in are so vivid. If you want to shred like Eddie Van Halen, play Rockstar! Win a gold medal skating! Take over a small country! No wonder he doesn’t daydream, he has an entire fantasy life at the end of the controller.
Is it the same? Is it better? Certainly it’s more concrete. I fear, however, that it’s a false sense of accomplishment, that he never needs to yearn. I was a big fat ball of yearning at his age. I wanted to do so many things, the future seemed limitless. I had to strive, work, sacrifice. Why spend hours practicing in an empty room when you screaming amphitheaters are at available at a touch of a button. Why learn through trial and error, when satisfaction is a click away.
I still yearn, and I still practice. I spend hours, bow in hand, working to shape the friction of horsehair on string into a sigh, or a sob. I still believe there is a chance for me as a writer, and who knows what else?
The video train has already left the station, and trying to hold it back is a futile gesture. My only strategy at this point, is to keep it in balance, and let him see what following a dream looks like. Wish me luck.