Instead of dancing around this topic, as I have been by blogging on other random things to try and distract myself lately, I’ve decided to just try and take the bull right by the horns, if you will.
Lately, I’ve been deadly bored.
I once had a college professor who remarked that saying “I’m bored,” expresses a heck of a lot more about your character/personality/intelligence than your circumstances. So be it, Dr. Stewart; I still think I mostly agree with you on that point – though a strong case could be made for prisoners in solitary confinement, like the literary character of Edmund Dantes when he’s serving his prison sentence in the Chateau D’if having more than an unimaginative character going against them in their own struggle with lethargy and acedia.
Wait a minute (I imagine my readers, all 2 of you, thinking), is she really comparing herself and her situation to that of the protagonist in The Count of Monte Cristo?!! Yes, yes I am. What else is youth and all this “freedom to fail” rhetoric for if not for an occasional bout of pretentiousness every now and again? I mean, really, if we should feel free to “make mistakes,” than that should include the mistake of such hubris every now and again. (Hubris might be a bit exaggerated of a word here – I think mere “pretentiousness” still fits the bill better. I just didn’t want to use the same word like that twice in the same paragraph. You know what to call that, right?)
The same prof. also once advised our class “If you’re gonna sin, sin BOLDLY.” I must say, measuring myself up against these pieces of professorial advice I’m recalling right now, I’m doing rather pathetically. At least in this post, small pretentiousnes and all.
God, I’m bored.
One good thing from all this: I now feel I have a much-enlarged capacity for empathy for people who find themselves facing unemployment. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. This also makes me think of an NPR feature I heard on the car radio while driving recently; the segment was comparing work hours/habits of various industrialized Western nations. One man interviewed said he had so much spare time at his job, that he wrote a book. A book! (Reminds me of one of my friend’s husbands, a musician, who spent most of his time in his cubicle job teaching himself Ancient Greek, and slowly going bonkers.) The interviewee said something to the effect of, “In theory, it sounds great – all that spare time for reading, writing, or whatever. But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s dehumanizing and debilitating.” I feel sort of the same way about all the time I have on hand when I sub at schools. At first it was great – essentially, I get paid to spend the majority of the day reading. But it gets real old real fast. In the same vein, I once read somewhere (I forget for sure where, but I suspect it was in Karen Blixen’s “Out of Africa;” I could, of course, be wrong) that if you put a Masai person into prison, they will simply die; this is apparently because they live so much in the moment, and don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on protractions of the future, that they think/feel as if their state of imprisonment is a permanent one — forever. And so they simply die.
Thankfully, I’m not quite there yet. (Not even remotely.) And I have the happy fact of moving and preparing to begin a new job to look forward to in exactly 1 week from now. I’m SO thankful for the prospect, at the same time that I’m a little nervous about it – naturally. It’s a change. I’ll be on my own, in an apartment all to myself, I mean – which I’ve been desiring for a long, long time now, and at the same time, I’d be leaving out pertinent information if I didn’t also include that I’m feeling apprehensive about being lonely. In my mind, it is HIGH TIME I officially, once-and-for-all, moved out from my parents’ house (even though I was relatively-recently away for almost an entire year living in another country last year, and away at college for four years prior to that); at the same time, I know I’m going to miss my family in my new home, and probably a LOT. (Even though two of my four siblings are now out of the house most of the time at college themselves, these days.)
Yes, it’s high time to fly the nest. In the meantime, I have pathetically been throwing myself after cheap pleasures in the form of binge-watching sappy 80’s love movies (I’m now well-acquainted w/ the name John Hughes) and binge-eating more chocolate chip cookies than I care to admit on the internet. Or to anyone other than myself, really – and even that’s a bit painful. As I wrote to one friend and told my mom earlier today, it’s like I’m going through some massive break-up but not because I wasn’t actually with anybody that I’ve broken up with recently…or, I kind of feel like what I imagine a stay-at-home mom feels like in her craziest, baby-bluest phase these days — only, minus the whole kids part. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Nina Simone. Popped “Sinnerman” on first thing this a.m. (“Popped”…? I’ve clearly also been watching waaayy too much BBC.) I need help. (Don’t we all?) I need a change. (It’s coming soon!!!)
My theme song during the holidays has been A Change Is Gonna Come; the version I have is on a SEAL CD I swiped from my brother.
But the song was originally written by Sam Cooke, and quickly became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement.
I grew up listening to Sam Cooke; my dad loves him, and my dad is nothing if not faithful – to his steady musical and movie favorites as well as to his work and his family. So suffice it to say that I’ve heard more than my share of Sam Cooke in my lifetime, from cassette tapes and CD’s played in the old big boombox in the blue kitchen of our old house when I was small to listening to Cooke on Spotify and Youtube. (I also watched a documentary, “Crossing Over,” on him yesterday, too, which I’ve long meant to watch; so my time isn’t being spent only on watching the likes of Patrick Dempsey and Kevin Bacon perform their art form.)
I love Sam Cooke. I came across this interesting two-year old NPR article on him and this song just now, as I was looking a recording of this song up for this post.
You know those personality tests for placing you on the Myers-Briggs chart and stuff like that? One of the typical questions for evaluations like that is, “Do you tend to work steadily or in bursts of energy relying on unpredictable feelings of inspiration.” I definitely fall into the latter category. Every time.
Maybe part of my problem right now is that I feel like I’m not really part of anything all that important – I want to be swept-up into some grand and significant movement, something with a truly good and noble purpose, with a force and significance that is much large than myself – something like the Civil Rights Movement which Cooke and others championed in songs like this. But most of the time (at least lately – and I’ll be the first to admit: I don’t have the best perspective right now. Both winter AND feeling shut-up, forgotten, isolated, and down-right BORED will do that to a person, skew their vision of things all out-of-whack) I just feel like a country mouse of a girl, trapped in the mundane, who was a biggish fish in a REALLY tiny pond in HS and is now floundering around, unsure of what to do with herself and not a part of anything that is REALLY exciting or important or adventurous, etc., etc., historically. (While at the same time continuing to maintain the intellectual assent to the belief that EVERYTHING MATTERS.) But I think truth-telling is also important, and that includes telling about the things that are kind of embarrassing and awkward, and, well, small – like being really really bored for no good, real, obvious reason(s) at all. I’m also slightly apprehensive about publishing this b/c a.) I’m afraid it’ll make me sound pathetically friendless, and/or 2.) That it will/could be legitimately written-off as the feelings of an over-privileged white American girl who doesn’t have enough imagination to figure out what to do with herself, or more worthwhile ways to spend her time than writing out all of this junk. I think I’ll still post this anyway, partly b/c I don’t honestly think that many people are going to read all of it in its entirety all the way to end, and partly because this is slightly therapeutic for me, or is at least keeping some of the feelings of choking boredom away: for now.
Part of life, at least in America, is that we deal with boredom and feeling our lives are pretty insignificant. Madame Bovary and the whole concept of “identity crises” and “teenage angst,” unfortunately, still make a lot of sense to me – as pathetic as I think they are sometimes.
Read somewhere recently (maybe in Alan Jacobs’ – another former professor of mine – excellent article “I’m Thinking It Over”) that one should not post something on SM if it adds only heat, not light, to an issue or topic. Well, not sure if this is adding much of any of that at all; hope it’s not adding more confusing darkness to the mix of bound-to-inevitably-implode-someday white noise that is the internet; perhaps it’ll shed a little more light on the workings of some people’s minds when they feel themselves start to go hay-wire from boredom. Or maybe some other random person will stumble across this and realize they are not the only one who feels this way sometimes. It’s a sort of reaching out, groping in the dark, perhaps? Another somewhat-feeble attempt (cracked-kettle-worthy) at expression of a very real human experience. I wonder, do members of all cultures and societies experience this kind of acedia in some sort of capacity? And across all times? Or is it a fairly recent development in human history? I suspect that it is aggravated, ironically, by the greater number of possessions and increased material wealth of certain cultures and nations. But I could be wrong about that.
spiritual or mental sloth; apathy
Great. Lord have mercy. (I mean it.)