This past week, I did something crazy, for the 21st century. I didn't watch Netflix, for an entire week. I binged on the first half of Jessica Jones during the snowstorm, and finally started watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia before bed, but then I stopped.
Most of my Netflix watching happens while I'm doing something else - cleaning, cooking, going to bed. I tend to opt for the familiar background noise jokes of Parks and Rec over watching something new that I'll actually sit down and pay attention to. And yet, I manage to waste so much time browsing through the endless options in the streaming library before resigning myself to a comedy special I've probably already watched once that week. Or I get up in the morning and say, "It's only nine, I can chill for an hour and start being productive at ten." But then by ten, my roommates are awake and have joined me in shouting all our favorite lines, and then suddenly it's noon and I have to rush to shower and eat something before leaving for work, without having done anything productive that morning.
The great, somewhat-accidental disruptor to that unproductive routine was my decision to learn Hebrew, and my friend's generous choice to send me the Rosetta Stone program to learn it. I love learning languages and got hooked on Rosetta Stone immediately. Now it's the first thing I do when I reach for my computer in the morning and the last thing I do before I go to sleep. I stopped putting Netflix on to fall asleep to, so that I could allow the Hebrew to sink into my brain and keep working while I slept. (This paid off - a couple nights ago I actually had a dream that I was using Rosetta Stone and was literally learning Hebrew in my sleep.)
In addition to Hebrew, during last Sunday's snowstorm one of my roommates started teaching me the basics of guitar. I've wanted to learn for years, and a day with nowhere to go and no way to get there anyway was the perfect opportunity. I started by learning five basic chords, and by the very next day started looking up guitar tabs to start learning songs.
A week later, I've studied Hebrew and practiced guitar every single day, but not watched Netflix once. I've worked on this website; I've submitted my play to a few development opportunities; I've cleaned the apartment - and that's all in my free time, outside of work. It's remarkable how many hours there are in a day when your time isn't eaten up in twenty-two minute blocks that somehow become three hours when you aren't looking. A week later, I've finished two Hebrew units (four sections each, comprising approximately 35 lessons apiece), and my guitar playing, while far from perfect, is flexible enough now to afford me the ability to play a range of songs.
I haven't given up Netflix for good, but this week of cold turkey put into perspective how much time I let myself lose to watching John Mulaney comedy specials in the last few months. Jonas killed my Netflix usage for a while, but he kindled a fire in my Ravenclaw heart, sparking again my love for study and learning. He trapped me inside my apartment, but let me grow in knowledge and skills, reminding me of my aspirations to always be a smarter and more versatile artist than I was yesterday.