Sweet Boredom

I can't remember the last time I had vacation.

Of course, it could be argued that when you're not working, you're perpetually on vacation, but it's not the same. Life fills up, regardless of what you do - or don’t do - and although you may lollygag for a few hours in an afternoon and be able to do so more often than when there's a job to go to, it's not vacation as such. It's just the way life is. Then I got a job and then the job expanded about a year ago and since then, aside from time dedicated to heal the latest injury, I haven't taken more than say, a long weekend where I've unplugged for work. The problem with this, I've discovered, is that it takes a good 2-3 days to get out of work mode, just in time for you to go back again.

A couple of weeks ago, LynnM sent me a link to a wonderful essay called La Vie D’Ennui by Colin Bisset about how enjoyable and - my interpretation - restorative boredom can be. Not the twitchy, I'll go crazy if I don't do something right now kind of boredom, but the one enjoyed by puttering around in long, lazy days, looking out the window at the rain, lying in the long grass on a summer afternoon, doing nothing to the point where your mind goes a little blank. "Perfect boredom is the enjoyment of the moment of stasis that comes between slowing down and speeding up" Bisset writes and goes on to talk about how these moments than being bored are also the moments where you start wondering, giving your imagination free reign and once freed of structure and expectation, it makes leaps and takes wing. It's no coincidence that Newton came up with the idea of gravity when sitting under an apple tree, is it?

In my life, those moments occur on the toilet. Seriously. It's the only time where I'm not actively involved in doing something, done with one thing and thinking about the next or drooling in exhaustion in front of the TV. Not coincidentally, it’s also on the throne that I get really good ideas. I don't spend a lot of time there - have this moved into TMI territory yet? - but just a few minutes of staring at the pattern on my rag-painted wall, seeing the chimpanzee there, the dog here, the line of waltzing couples above the baseboards, poufy gowns billowing as they swirl to silent music, unplugs my brain from the neverending buzzing to the place where the deeper parts burble up ideas. And then I go back to work, make a note of all these great ideas, but never actually have time or energy to do anything about them.

Except now. Because I'm on vacation, have been since yesterday morning and plan to do sweet nothing for days, perhaps only interrupted by writing things, thoughtful, whimsical or just plain idiotic, that I want to write. Nothing for work, nothing for the various volunteer things, nothing for anyone but me (the blog may get something, may get just photos, who knows…). I've set it up, let everybody know I'm on vacation - not going anywhere, but not available, either - and several times in the past 24 hours caught myself saying "I'll just send so-and-so in e-mail" or "I’ll give them a call tomorrow" only to take a deep breath and follow it with "no I won't, I'm on vacation. I'll get to it next Thursday". It's quite liberating. Difficult, too - when your office is right in your bedroom, is really hard not to click on that link that’ll take you to the latest comment that needs a reply or answer that e-mail, but I'll keep trying and somehow, to be honest, it's becoming less difficult. That moment of letting go, the active dropping of one thing, deliberately putting the other thing on the shelf for a week is making me sort of giddy. Haven't started writing anything yet - I'm still beating down the part of me that thinks I should be working because then there'll be less to do when I go back to work next week, but she's increasingly rolling over, giggling madly and any minute now, I think she'll start saying these things just for the dizzying joy in flinging it all back up in the air and not caring where it falls.

I can't wait to get bored.


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