Is anyone else feeling bored?
That is probably an odd question for many of you. How can boredom fit into a life full of kids and unemployment checks and working and a fucking global pandemic?
I don’t know what to say other than, as worried and freaked out as I feel for myself and the world, really, I can’t help but notice this creeping sensation of boredom.
Every day is more or less the same. Nothing really seems to be changing, certainly not really for the better. Even on a national level, there is the crisis du jour, the daily drama or some sort of revelation, that seems to fit an equation of emergency.
Every day, I do my job (that I automatically feel like I need to express my gratitude for having), I go for a run or a walk, I maybe talk to someone on the phone, hopefully I write a little bit. Scrolling through the news or social media tricks my brain into thinking something is new, because it gives me little dopamine hits with new information flooding my brain, but then I realize the scrolling is nothing new and nothing is really substantively different.
Most people I talk to seem to be experiencing the doldrums: the adrenaline of the first few months of not knowing what the hell was going on from one moment to the next has worn off—perhaps we’ve become desensitized—and yet there is no end in sight. We’re basically all saying the same thing: “Oh shit. We’re gonna be here a while.”
And there is no path to follow, there are no defined steps to take through this crisis. No one has ever been here before, and instead of feeling safe in the knowledge that our leaders are trying to bring us together and figure it out, we have drama and division and in-fighting and petulance.
So perhaps the boredom springs from this sense that we are collectively holding our breaths, that there is nothing to do but wait. Boredom as feeling stuck: waiting for a delayed flight to take off, despite the pile of magazines and new book and downloaded podcasts, it’s still possible to feel bored simply because what we’re waiting for hasn’t happened yet.
For me, it also springs from perfectionism and anxiety: if I can’t do something right or good or that has meaning, what’s even the point? There is also survivor’s guilt saying that doing something that brings joy is selfish and I don’t deserve it. Boredom as apathy: which I have my eye closely on as a trigger of depression. So far, it’s not a “I can’t even get out of bed” feeling, but a “going through the motions” feeling, which I can deal with.
As I write this, I know that being myself in this world, putting my voice out there, doing what I can with what I have right now (physically and mentally)—these are acts of resistance, of humanity. Telling that survivor’s guilt that it doesn’t do anyone any good to self-flagellate into a constant state of suffering.
It’s also trusting the ever-changing world, the ever-changing experience of being human, that riding this current wave of disaster means that honestly right now all any of us have to do is survive. I think this means we are especially volatile right now, wanting to put energy into something and deciding that “something” is arguing on Twitter or rebelling by spending unmasked time with friends and family. It’s a false sense of productivity and meaning.
Instead, my wish is for us to hold each other in this space, to relieve the pressure for each other, to first say, “That sounds really hard, please tell me more” instead of jumping into a debate.
To understand that boredom is a time for incubation and growth. For being comfortable being uncomfortable. Of composting: taking garbage and turning it into something that can nourish and sustain.