• eschaden

Bored with Bored


I was bored a couple of weeks ago. For like 30 minutes. It was weird and unsettling. I don’t do boredom. I think like 40 years ago I was bored and vowed never to be bored again....and I haven’t been. I became a lifelong seeker of drama. And boy oh boy did I find it!


What happened is that I learned to stir up the shit whenever it looked like I might be bored or that next Tuesday there might be a gap in my already overwhelming schedule. I scheduled my life to the minute so that time was never left unattended or unscripted.


This is how I lived for the better part of my life. I think there was an entire decade when my children were little that I didn’t even sit down. Not to eat, sometimes to pee but that was about it.


It really wasn’t until the other day that I realized that since I am not dating or shopping or gap filling (see previously article on that topic) that I was bored. The usual acquiring methodology is not being utilized in my life and it has left a void - a place where there is the absence of drama or desire. It is weird. Most bizarre was that I was able to identify the feeling since I have had it so infrequently and have so often labeled it something else. It was a moment. I was sitting in my office with this vague feeling of something not quite being right. I ran through the usual suspects: Hungry? No. Tired? Always but that wasn’t it. Lonely? Of course, but nothing to be done about that currently. Angry? Not at the moment. So what was this feeling I was having? After a spot check inventory on Erin’s current mental state, I realized that there was nothing going on. No drama - nothing exciting or on fire in my life. After a couple of hours of unidentified emotional confusion, I concluded that this must be what boredom feels like.


I was instantly overwhelmed with this feeling that I needed throw up an online dating profile, call an old flame, buy something on Amazon, call my ex-husband to tell him my current thoughts on his parenting or SOMETHING! It was visceral. It was feelable - even by a committed non feeler like me. There it was - a gap in the ongoing monolithic drama that is my life. After the panic subsided, I realized that it was just silly old boredom. Seriously, I thought, “I haven’t really felt this way since I was a kid - I mean the last time I can remember being bored - I was like 10.” Then it was like an old friend stopped by to say hi after almost 40 years in absentia. So we had a cup of coffee and caught up.


Turns out that boredom has been trying to get my attention for YEARS. It is just that every time boredom gets anywhere close to acquiring my attention, some one else shows up and commandeers my thoughts, actions or feelings and boredom is like a jilted lover waiting on the curb with flowers and candy in his hand. I immediately felt like I should come up with an excuse as to why I could not possibly spend anytime with boredom the other day. I wanted to run into the bathroom at work and hide until it left. However, I didn’t exit in all my habitual ways. I just sat there - cup in hand and listened to what the hell boredom has been up to for the past 40 years. Turns out boredom has been chasing my heels and is pretty fucking tired.


Boredom said the following:


You are one BUSY gal! I have been trying to catch up with you for so long now that I forgot what I wanted to tell you! I have just fallen into this habit of chasing you around trying to get your attention. It is nearly impossible because you are never ever without something or someone engaging you. Seriously the only time that I have even had a prayer of getting your attention is at bedtime but you immediately turn on Netflix and that then you are out in 5, 4, 3, 2...


I know you think that I have nothing to offer you but just give me 5 minutes and let me into your life...


I can teach you things. I can calm the worry, stress and inevitable feelings of sadness and loneliness. I can take their place. I can and I will, but you have to let me!”


I replied:


Well aren’t you one persistent emotion! 40 years is a very long time to chase someone. I am equally impressed and horrified by your commitment to me. Seriously, no one has ever worked so hard for so long. Then again I am good with someone on my tale - I can lose them in seconds flat. So good job keeping up!


I am having a hard time swallowing what you say. I really am. You, boredom, are one persistent dude! (Yes, I made boredom male).


Let me get this straight - if I am willing to spend time with you and be bored then you will relieve my stress, lonliness and sadness, etc.?


To which Boredom replied:


Yep. I just need you to welcome me into your life and all kinds of things can happen!


Me:


That seems like an overly promised promise.


Boredom:


Look, you have been running from me for so long now that you don't even know what I feel like! Every time you think that you might, wait, could be bored, you stir the pot and cause some agitation and then you are off again and I have to begin the chase anew.


Me:


No offense, but I don't like you. I don't enjoy your company. I am not happy when you are here. As an only child, seemed like you wore out your welcome. You were always there. Weekends. Summers. Seemed like I was constantly chasing you off and you just kept coming back.


Boredom:


I had something to teach you but I never, ever got the lesson to you because you were so good at resisting me and stirring things up. I would have your attention for a minute...remember when you would lay in the front yard on a blanket with your dog and just look up at the sky? Or when you used to lay on your bed on your grandmother's farm and listen to crickets at night? Or how about when there was nothing on TV and you would lay on the couch with your feet in the air and head dangling off? Do you remember any of that?


Me:


Yes. In fact, I do. Those times were excruciating. Not fun. BORING! I hated them.


Boredom:


Stop. I know that was the instant emotion but let's look at these situations in retrospect...What other feelings did you have in each of the above situations?


Me:


I felt BORED.


Boredom:


Do you want to spend the rest of your life running? Or are you now willing to learn what I have to teach you? God, you are a pain in the ass!


Me:


Yes, I know I have been told that before...many times. Seriously, I don't want to learn anymore lessons. I am tired. I am done. I don't want to learn more shit. I just want what I already know to serve me as the knowledge that I possess was hard won and long acquired. Can't I just be done? I already have so much to do every damn day!


Boredom:


EXACTLY! You make my point! Just answer this last question: what were the other feelings you had looking at the sky, listening to crickets and laying on the couch besides being bored?


Me:


Will you leave me alone if I answer?


Boredom:


Yes. I promise.


Me:


Fine. I felt not rushed. I felt peaceful. I felt like I had time to be unproductive. I felt like I was not going anywhere and that was ok. I felt like I was in my body and it was ok. I felt content.


Boredom:


And?


Me:


I always felt like that if I was unable to satisfy the initial reaction of resisting being bored, I felt peaceful. I mean every time. I felt all of those feelings. Is that really possible? That I have complete access to feeling peaceful and content all the time? My only problem is my solution to constantly fill the gaps and always fill up the time?


Boredom:


Yes.


Me:


Wow. I have missed a lot of opportunities to be content. In fact, one could say that have chosen discontent and irritation over peaceful and contented so often that it has become a habit.


Boredom:


Yes. You look like you are going to cry.


Me:


I hate crying.


Boredom:


Wait. Sit right there. Don't do anything. Sit with that feeling of resistance to crying. That is the same feeling that causes you to resist never being bored. It all starts here.


Me:


I know.


Boredom:


Are you willing to stay here for just a little while?


Me:


Promise it won't last forever?


Boredom:


I promise.


Me:


Ok, I won't resist. (Tears start to fall and I just let them - a few minutes pass. I look around and boredom is gone. I am all alone - no resistance, no tears. So I go outside my office and sit down on the patio. I leave my phone on my desk and take nothing with me. I just sit there. Minutes pass. I feel it. That contented, unrushed feeling from childhood. I don't know how long I sit there awash with this foreign yet pleasant feeling. I feel like all is right with the world and I am missing nothing.)


Boredom, you still here? No answer.


All I have to do is not resist?


I think that I hear a soft whisper..."yes, just be still"


Being still is harder than you think but Boredom's lesson hits home. If I can resist my urges, I will be content.


Thank you Boredom for not giving up on me!


What will boredom teach you, my friend? Give him a shot? What do you really have to lose?


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