Boredom is My Nemesis

I deal with boredom by doing nothing about it. Boredom is an insidious force in my life, that creeps up on me like a snail chasing a turtle. Once I’ve become properly bored, however, getting myself out of the funk is a Herculean task.

Boredom: the desire for desires.

–Leo Tolstoy

When I googled how to stop being bored, one of the most common pieces of advice that I came across was to go offline. If I were to do that, I would no longer be listening to new music on SoundCloud, watching YouTube video clips of talk shows, checking my Facebook account, refreshing my Twitter feed, or liking photos on Instagram. What would I do, if I were to go offline?

There are plenty of things that I could do if I were to go offline. I could read a book, work on a story, sweep my apartment, take a bubble bath, go for a bike ride, go for a walk, or listen to music (using my iPod). Hell, I could spend my time struggling through this online course that I’m taking; I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be the burden that it has become. I’m sure there are other things that I could do, but when you’re properly bored it is damn hard to find anything interesting.

What I’ve taken to, is going for a drive. I like going for a drive because it feels like I’ve gone somewhere. But, once I’m back, I realize that I basically just sat in a car for about an hour, listening to music or a podcast. Soon after taking off my shoes, I’m bored again.

Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.

–Thomas Szasz

Most of my days are wasted in 7-10 minute increments. My current attention span is about 4 minutes, but I usually come back ’round for the last minute or so of whatever I happen to be wasting my time doing. For example, I’ve had this post open for well over an hour and a half.

The problem with having such a short attention span is that you can’t see what’s coming next, nor can you plan for it. It takes too long to plan anything of consequence, and even longer to accomplish any goals you may have set out. My brain keeps darting from one thought to the next, without any clear line of sight between them.

I’ve been in a similar situation before — when boredom overshadows my life — so I’m aware of the signs, and I’m aware of the consequences of remaining under this cloud for any longer. The first thing that happens is that I stop shaving. I’ve never been one for shaving daily, but I really should run a razor across my face once it gets up to about two weeks. When I’m shaving daily, or near daily, I’m on my game, and shit is getting done. Currently, I haven’t shaved in around four weeks.

Next, I start sleeping a lot. It’s almost as if I’m trying to out-sleep a hibernating polar bear. To be fair, I’m a big sleeper, and I would never, ever, deny anyone their sleep, but I sleep a ridiculous amount when I’m bored. Sleeping is fine, but you don’t accomplish much when you’re unconscious, and, well, things need to get done. The other issue with sleeping so much is that your schedule gets put off. When you’re awake at 4:00 am, there isn’t much to do except write a blog post about your boredom.

Once my sleep schedule is f’ed, my desire for stimulants (legal ones, of course) increases. I drink absurd amounts of coffee, smoke too many cigarettes, and make justifications a beer or two that I really don’t need.

What follows next is counter-intuitive, and is something I should probably talk to a shrink about: I reduce my communications with people. I’ll avoid emails, text messages, voicemails, and phone calls. I haven’t been too bad this time around, but there is certainly some correspondence that I should take care of, post-haste. Why I choose to avoid the most interesting thing in life — people — when I’m bored, is a mystery worth solving.

While all of this sounds eerily similar to the symptoms of depression or anxiety, please let me assure that, this time, it is not. I have suffered through depression and anxiety, or, at least, I’ve been diagnosed with and treated for both in the past. Thinking back, I think the problem was that I’m not mature enough to deal with the things that people my age deal with. My grasp of the world is tenuous, at best, and I struggle to find the appropriate coping strategies for life’s inevitable events. I’m not much better now at dealing with all of that noise than I was before.

I digress.

For boredom speaks the language of time, and it is to teach you the most valuable lesson of your life – the lesson of your utter insignificance.

–Joseph Brodsky

For me, what boredom becomes is the succumbing to passivity. When I’m bored, I’m not active. I deplore any activity that requires any sort of computational power on my part. I hate thinking when I’m bored.

It’s a strange way to reach out to the world, waiting for it to come to you and somehow excite the being the rests within you. And, if it were to do just that — to excite me in the way that I desire most — I wouldn’t be ready. I’d probably be unbathed, with teeth unbrushed, in yesterday’s underwear, wearing a hat over uncombed hair, slouching on the couch, and eating peanuts because it’s something that has essentially become illicit to do in public. In fact, the opportunity would probably just wash over me, unnoticed.

This is the most dangerous thing about boredom: it is projected onto anything your senses perceive. Everything becomes boring. It’s a cancerous emotion.

You begin to think that anything would be more interesting than what you’re doing right now. It never is, though. Whatever you’re going to do next will be just as boring.

Anyway, I don’t want to get preachy about the whole thing, because, surely, everybody gets bored at some point in their life.

I don’t think going offline is the answer. I mean, who would buy and read a zine of this blog’s content? Seriously, I just wrote a post about boredom because I’m bored. And, you just read it.

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