By Ryan

460523_poker_chipsPeople are interesting.  When it comes to their relationship with other people, they often struggle with commitment, afraid of investing too much of themselves in something that could potentially hurt them later on.  When faced with more abstract ideas, however, many tend to overvalue commitment to the point that it actually fosters a relationship of hurt with the very thing to which they commit.  I’ve done this, but I’m trying to do it less; I’ve found a helpful phrase to express this idea: choosing to not engage with things that don’t engage me.

Take, for example, the area of politics.  I’ve been so sick of politics, politicians, pundits, and the way we choose to talk about politics in 2009 that, frankly, my only experiences in a realm I once enjoyed have been mostly negative.  Almost every time I choose to engage with political ideas, via reading about them or talking about them, the end result is me feeling disappointed with myself and others.  Politics is prime area of interest that forces one to have conversations on the turf of others, refusing to meet the needs or interests of those not highly-attuned to what happens in D.C.

It’s not just politics, though.  I feel the same way about things that are more trivial (to some), like television.  I don’t care how long you’ve watched a series—if it’s bad now, then it’s not worth watching anymore.  People act like they’re “pot-committed” in poker; just because you’ve already put in a lot of money that you’re likely to lose is no reason to stay around and throw more money in the pot.  Furthermore, I can’t tell you how many people rave about certain shows that, upon viewing, I’ve stopped watching after the first episode.  Don’t tell me to “stick with it.”  If The Wire or Mad Men or whatever doesn’t make you want to watch more, then don’t watch more.  In fact, I think it’s kind of silly to watch more if that’s the case.

The same goes for reading a book, watching a movie, listening to music, going on a trip, going to church, etc.  This is your life; if you aren’t being engaged in a way that makes you want to engage, then, by all means, disengage.  There’s no prize for finishing something that you’re doing out of leisure, guilt, or self-assumed responsibility and you’re only hurting yourself to think there’s value in completion.