We’ve all faced it… the dreaded downtime.  Off the road, off the grid, either way, no work and no paycheck.  Usually that’s a bad thing but sometimes we all need a little time off to relax and recharge the batteries.  So what’s the best way to utilize the time off?

First things first, I usually catch up on some much needed sleep.  Once I emerge from the hibernation (a good day or so) I take stock of things and prioritize a list of to-dos.  For many people I know the downtime is a good time to get some work done around the house.  My Dad always said that when you own a house no matter where you sit you’re always looking at something you should be doing.  He was right… a little paint here, a little trim work there.  There’s always something to do, especially out in the yard.  Currently I’m living in an apartment so I don’t have to sweat most of those types of things but even then there’s still some housework to be done.  We’re on the hunt for a house so pretty soon I’ll have to accept the fact that I’ll have to set aside a bit more time to maintaining it.

Ok, so the housework is done… now what?  Well, my wife and I enjoy going out and trying out new restaurants and exploring places we’ve never been to.  That takes up an evening or two and sometimes a whole day but it can get expensive so we try and maintain a budget.  It’s always good to work at maintaining the relationship with your significant other if you have one because that’s where the real emotional comfort comes from.  As humans we need that emotional release and too few people spend the time figuring out what they need in terms of mental comfort and thus suffer greatly for it.  We’re social creatures and our family and friends make up a large portion of our mental health in our interactions with them.  My wife is my best friend and we’re extremely close even though we both respect each other’s need for private time which is also vitally important.  Alone time with your own thoughts can be remarkable satisfying… but don’t ignore your partner!  Making sure your spouse is happy means you too will be happy!

Having got that out of the way now it’s time for… hobbies!  We all have ’em, we all enjoy ’em.  What’s yours?  For me it’s mainly flying radio controlled planes.  

I’m not talking about the old gas and balsa models that cost a ton, took forever to build and made a mess of everything once you started sanding and doping.  No, these days it’s relatively inexpensive foam planes and electric motors.  With the new lithium polymer batteries you can finally have decent air time with an electric motor.  And since these new foam planes come scale molded they’re real easy to put together.  You can get a plane from your local hobby shop and be flying within an hour.  It often takes longer to charge the battery than it does to assemble the plane. And you can get just about any kind of plane.  I’m partial to WW2 warbirds like the F4U Corsair and the Messerschmitt BF109, both of which I have models of.   I’ve always wanted to fly but only recently gotten into the hobby because it used to be real messy and smelly.  The gas or nitro fuel was dangerous and stinky as was the dope to coat the surfaces with.  You had to sand the balsa which pretty much requires that you have a shop or a room dedicated to mess it makes.  If you crash a plane (and you will) it was difficult if not impossible to repair it if it was balsa and monokote.  With these new foamies you can apply a little quick set epoxy to a broken wing and be back up flying in minutes!  The old school method was not the kind of hobby you could maintain on the kitchen table.  These days for the most part it’s much neater and takes up much less room.  Beware though… it’s addictive and like me you may end up with a spare bedroom becoming a hangar!

I find that one of the unexpected benefits of flying is that it takes so much concentration that you’re not thinking about anyting else which is actually very relaxing.  If you think you might be into it search a local club and go talk to ’em.

Other stuff that keeps me busy is working on my vinatge 1974 Datsun 260Z.  It’s a cool old car I bought from the original owner when I lived in Nashville.  I’ve had numerous other Zs in the past, a few 280Zs and a couple of 240Zs but this 260Z I have now is by far my favorite.  I also play ice hockey and rock out with my Kubicki X-Factor basses once in a while. 

The bottom line is that we all need something in our lives that distracts us from our work and day to day toils.  If you’re like me you love what you do (I REALLY do) but it’s still work and after a few weeks or more on the road we all need a stabilizing element in our lives to keep us balanced.  Life is meant to be enjoyed and if you never take the time to ‘smell the roses’ so to speak, you’ll be one grumpy SOB.  Don’t be that guy or gal.  Seek out the fun stuff and find someone to share it with!