I start writing this not knowing what word will be at the top of this essay, this blog post, this musing.
What I do know, is that last night in my journal, I wrote I AM BORED in scrawly capital letters. I did not start with the date, I did not write my usual three gratitudes before writing.
It’s not as if this perpetual state of having every day look the same is new. We’ve all been in this state for a year. Photos from a year ago remind us of the “last time… little did we know… look at all those people without masks… hahaha back when we thought hand sanitizer and elbow bumps would save us all…”
I’m not bored because I have nothing to do. Work is busy, I have various writing projects in various stages of being, there are weeds to pull and a dog to walk and runs to take.
The flavor of boredom I think I am experiencing is one of apathy. It’s a teeny tiny flicker of depression, something I see in my peripheral vision and, thankfully, can keep it from settling in. But it’s still there, and my hope is by naming it I can keep it over there, minding its own business, not settling in.
It’s trying to sneak in, like if it moves slowly enough I won’t notice (this is the same trick my dog uses to enter the kitchen during dinner which he is not allowed to do. First one paw escapes the carpet and onto the linoleum. Then the second). And what it tells me, is:
It’s easier to scroll through social media, to do the crossword puzzle or the spelling bee, answer emails.
What these activities have in common is passivity.
When I get into these apathetic moods, I try to remember that, “mood follows action.” That doing the thing is the first step, sometimes, to wanting to do the thing. And it’s true, getting started is the hardest part, but I’m always thankful to have run, to have written, to have spent time on a work project rather than just spending my day in meetings and on email.
But I think this adage doesn’t always work with depression. Because while the action can help depression from settling in, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to be in a better mood, or “feel like” doing whatever it is. So, expecting a better mood and then not getting it adds to the vicious cycle of “not feeling like it.” There’s this sense of going through the motions, and that’s boring. It’s boring to do things that, yes, I like doing, but not get a sense of fulfillment from them.
(There’s the word. Fulfillment.)
Another piece here is that, even after a year, I still try to force bits of the old life into an evolving life. So there’s still lingering guilt over what a work day “should” look like. What a writing routine “should” look like. What a training plan “should” look like. What “should” fulfill me—hard work and the grind and productivity and epicness.
When I get caught up in those shoulds, I lose track of the thing itself, that creating an environment where it’s possible to do the things I know fulfill me is more important than how that environment looks on the outside.
It’s also boring to check in with the outside world, which right now means social media, and see the same old bullshit. I’m bored of going on Twitter and NextDoor and reading the same barbs and snark and vitriol. The balance between all that and being inspired and feeling informed seems to be off lately. And yet, I keep scrolling, because it’s easy. It feels in the moment somehow productive but certainly doesn’t fulfill me.
Fulfillment, therefore, isn’t tied to filling time. It is tied to filling the world, to filling my soul. Sometimes I will feel like filling and sometimes I won’t but even if my mood doesn’t change, I will be fuller for having gone through the motions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ll be taking a little Twitter and FB break (though auto posting may throw some things up there from my website). I’m not as triggered by Insta, so find me there @bankoferin!
I’m working my way through this list of words that have changed in meaning for me over time.
If you appreciated reading this, will you do me a favor? Please share on social media (especially FB and Twitter, tag @bankoferin) and help me grow my reader base. xoxo