There’s a funny side-effect to establishing your online presence in relation to one thing: sometimes it can seem like you are defined by that one thing. Whether it’s fitness, food, politics, parenting…the badges we wear on our own spaces and across social media become a part of our identities.

The funny thing about that is how you can know that there are a lot of talents, roles, and interests that make up who you are, but to the vast array of those who interact with you online, you are about “that one thing”.

So what happens when you take a while away from that one thing? Film, in my case.

For a while now, I’ve been using Letterboxd to log my viewing habits. I don’t use it to post thoughts on every movie I see so much as I use it as a diary of what I’ve watched and when, and likewise see what my friends are watching. Most of us choose not to jot down thoughts on every movie we watch, so the site primarily serves as something of a ticker. So imagine my surprise on Monday night when I sat down to log that I’d watched WOMAN OF THE YEAR…and noticed that a whole week had gone by since I last watched a movie.

The last film logged was the Monday prior. It was the blu-ray of THE LOST WORLD I’d bought myself after Christmas. Even then, I probably shouldn’t have counted it as I had it playing while I was cooking dinner, and didn’t really give it my full attention until the final act in San Diego. That takes us back to Oscar Night, when I watched SOUL KITCHEN as a respite from red carpet coverage.

One week. No movies.

Near as I can recall, that hasn’t happened since I’ve started keeping up this space.

So the first thing to wonder about is how that happened? For starters, it was a busy week socially. Friends and family were dropping by Casa del McNeil, and an entire night was dedicated to the annual Movie Blogger Drink-Up. This is always a good thing. Whether people come to you, you go to people, or you all gather somewhere in the middle, I must echo the wise sibling who once told me that being social trumps watching movies every time. What’s more, I can certainly say that it’s the social aspect of discussing and going to film that has encouraged me to consume as much as I do. Still, sometimes it’s glorious to gather and do “something else”…talk about “something else”. Try it sometime.

Beyond the social, I found myself reaching for other distractions. Sometimes it was my camera, sometimes it was my records, sometimes it was my books. When you get into a rhythm with one of these things, it’s hard to pull yourself away, isn’t it? You want to keep turning pages…keep creating images…keep flipping the record over and playing the other side. Looking back, it seemed as though I found a groove where these pastimes were bringing me a great deal of warmth and comfort and I wanted to stay there. Basically these moments felt like ten-thirty on a lazy Sunday, and I had no desire to pull back the blanket and throw open the curtains.

The Old Man & The Sea

Oddly enough, the warmth and comfort I found in these interests was despite the fact they require more active engagement than the passivity that comes with watching film. Funny that, no? You’d think that one would find more relaxation out of shutting the brain off.

So I was being social, I was playing with other things, that should account for two or three days – how’d we get to seven?

The trip.

If you follow me on social media in any way, you probably saw updates coming from a long weekend spent in NYC. Now at first glance, it seems academic that a bit of travel would lend itself to some cinematic distraction. Between waiting for planes, sitting on planes, and chilling at the beginning or end of a day, there are lots of gaps to watch something short. The movies were right there on the hotel TV, on the display in the plane, on the laptop in my backpack, and on the phone in my pocket. However, even in these moments with these outlets. I found myself more consumed with my book, my camera, and my company. All of these activities seemed like a better use of my time than just “one more movie”, and looking back they absolutely were.

Interestingly, there came a moment when the streak was almost snapped on our third day in the city. The original plan was to wander neighbourhoods I hadn’t wandered before and take photos, but a heavy bout of snow was on its way. So for a moment, I considered taking refuge in the Brooklyn Academy of  Music and soaking up their screening of THE HUSTLER. But then I found myself thinking “When’s the next time you’ll be down here? Man-up and take some photos in the snow”. Thus, Paul Newman was sacrificed for a chilly walk through Hell’s Kitchen.

And y’know what? Time well-spent – every minute of it.

Hell's Kitchen

So here I am, looking at a seven-day gap in my film diary where it seems like “nothing happened”. Somewhere between seven and ten selections feel “missing”…and I couldn’t care less. I mean, it seems weird to see it, but only because it’s the first time that has happened. The next time, it will probably only be met with a shrug, and the time after that not even a shrug. Oddly enough, it all comes hot on the heels of someone jokingly suggesting that I give up watching film for Lent. If the last week is a testament, it would appear as though it’s a sacrifice I could handle.

Here’s the thing, it’s all of those other activities that give my film consumption its context. It’s the conversations they spark, the books they suggest, the songs they prompt, and the ideas they inspire. It’s “one thing”, but that “one thing” is only a worthwhile pursuit in the way it leads to so many other things.

So if you too have that “one thing”, no matter how much you adore it, take a week away from it and drown yourself in other things. You might find it makes you appreciate that “one thing” all the more…or you might find that you didn’t even realize a whole week had gone by.