Last Saturday, I looked at paintings and had a bubblegum smoothie after – a pretty solid afternoon if you ask me. For my art class, we were required to visit an art gallery downtown and write a paper about two art pieces. I told my sister and she was willing to go with me. We wanted to take our brother along, as well. He decided to stay home and go on his laptop instead. We went without him, and it was fun.
My brother declined to go with us because not showering and going on his laptop requires less effort. But I don’t truly understand why he chose to not join us. He’s never visited an art gallery. I can’t figure out why my brother didn’t want to experience something new. We were giving him an opportunity to leave the house and do something that differs from the same routine he follows every day – playing games on websites.
My brother stays home and goes on the Internet pretty often. It’s definitely a daily occurrence that lasts hours. Last July, I texted my friend Cameron about my brother’s habits and he replied, “We need to get thelittle dude out. He needs to enjoy his youth. Psssh if we don’t stop him now he’ll get addicted to shitty reality TV shows and become a fan of the real housewives of some other pompous city.” It was a joke. But it still held a lot of truth.
What I’m saying is this – I don’t like that my brother isn’t using his free time to discover his interests. Why not go out in the world and see what you like? He knows that playing games is fun – but does he know if he likes art galleries or not? He doesn’t – because he’s never visited one.
Maybe this shocks me so much because I was pretty different when I was his age. He’s currently 13 and in 8th grade. When I was at that point in my life, I, like him, had a lot of free time – middle school wasn’t academically rigorous for me. I went to school and got home around three, leaving me seven hours until bedtime. I was lucky if I could occupy one hour with homework. Weekends were even worse. I never knew what to do with all of my ample time.
I spent a lot of time at home watching reruns on TV or visiting Facebook. It was comfortable and easy and not anxiety-inducing. So why did I have such a problem with it?
Because those activities failed to challenge my mind or body. I wanted to discover a new interest – something to captivate my thoughts and entire being.
Towards the end of eighth grade, I started exercising on my own. I’d run for about two miles on some evenings.
Back then, I was the type of person that would often not meet the passing time for the mile in PE class. Working out was pretty hard – sometimes, I’d walk a little or even stop. I never cared for working out before, but I wanted to leave the house and my lack of a driver’s license limited me. There was a slight thrill involved – it was an activity that was completely mine to control. There was something about running that I liked. It was really hard, but satisfying in the end.
And I guess that’s why I joined cross country my freshman year – because I needed something interesting in my life. I met a lot of great people by doing both cross country and track – people that made me not hate high school so much.If I had decided to not try something new in my final months of middle school, I would have never found out that I actually love running.
Maybe my brother has already figured out that he doesn’t care for art – but it’s more about his attitude than this isolated incident. It wasn’t just last Saturday – he is always reluctant to leave the house with us because what he has at home – Cheetos and wi fi – is already good enough. Why doesn’t he ever wonder if something more interesting than online games exists?
No, not every new thing you try will be something amazing. But you have to go through weeds to find a flower. Read a science fiction novel, even if you only care for Nicholas Sparks. Drink tea one day, no matter how addicted to coffee you think you are. Ride your bike instead of driving. Go do new things, because that’s how experience happens.
Hopefully one day, he’ll long to leave the house to gain knowledge, or to discover a new interest, or just to witness some humans. I hope he soon realizes that there’s an actual world to see and learn from and become enamored with.