Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Remember boredom?

Something occurred to me today out of seemingly nowhere: I can't remember the last time I was bored. I was walking toward the bus stop that would take me home from another long day of work, and I was thinking about how my to-do list will never be over. Not my work to-do list, not my home to-do list. There are weeks that I make good dents and there are weeks that I lag or that more things than usual get piled on, but even if I had one productive week after another, I can't conceive getting to the bottom of those lists.

There are points in my week that I'm doing nothing, sure. Laying on the couch, hypnotized by the TV. But frankly I feel like the downtime is necessary. If all my rebooting time was strictly to sleep, I'd be miserable. I need some mindless goofing off. Both for me and my relationship with boyfriend, CJ. But at no point does the mindlessness last long enough to come close to bored. At some point something in me turns on that says I've had enough nothing and it's time to do something again.

When I try to think back to the last time I was really bored, the kind of bored that makes you want to fling your head back and grunt, I think of summers as a kid. The days when no friends were free to play, no computer existed to kill the time, and TV could only stave off boredom for so long; I can remember pacing around my house, begging my parents for any form of entertainment. Following my mom up and down the aisles of the grocery store because anything was better than sitting in my room, staring at the toys that just didn't do it for me anymore.

Sitting at the bus stop, wondering if I would ever be that bored again, I thought of two things. One, any parent out there with several kids, multiple jobs and a home to take care of would laugh at my idea of being "too busy" for boredom. I admit, my to do list isn't strenuous, really at home or work.

The second thing was, is there a point when that boredom comes back? We assume that the elderly  are bored, and often that's a reasonable assumption; our grandparents seem so happy to have just a moment of our time to talk about anything. It's also probably very situational. My grandmother, who had a garden to tend to and bingo nights and three annoying grandchildren to entertain always seemed to have something going on. It's not fair to say all elderly are bored just like it's not fair to assume everyone's boredom ends at childhood. People often talk right before a career change or significant change in their personal life that they felt like they were muddling along, bored.  I don't doubt that that could one day happen, but I can honestly say I could never describe any point in my day as muddling along.

I found myself on a flight the other day with no book, no TV, no chance of sleep, and I'd done a satisfying-enough amount of work that I didn't feel the need to pull my computer out. I knew I had hours left, and yet no "what now?" moment came. I loved that I had this excuse to do nothing. To sit, wide awake, looking at nothing in particular, letting my mind wander. It seems there are so few chances to do that these days.

Maybe in a few years from now I'll be at home with a child, ready to pull my hair out of my head after months on end with little adult interaction, cursing at myself for what I'm feeling now: a sense of missing the feeling of boredom. Maybe missing it isn't the right word. I don't know that I ever want to feel bored. Unencumbered, maybe. Weightless. Satisfied. Not bored.

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