A Blessed Bench Of Boredom

Some days I sit here, after scrolling through the multitude of things that flash by and find myself drifting off and staring at this framed print I’ve had for years. Noticing the details of the flowers, the way that one flower in the lower right-hand corner looks like it’s dancing. How the artist used the blank spaces, how the alabaster type vases are different, and how with the strokes of light and dark I can almost imagine their weight in my hand. Can almost imagine the room they are in, with light streaming in through an open window, perhaps in the morning, or late in the afternoon. The wall behind with its rustic wash of plaster could be a room within some ancient dwelling, far away, such as an Italian Villa, or a Parisian apartment.

The last couple months I have wandered about, picking at the fringes, ran my eyes across a multitude of words, nourished my brain with histories of civilizations and empires, in search of ‘it’. I suppose it is hard to find ‘it’ when you have no idea what ‘it’ is.

I hesitate to define this sense as depression, if only because I believe that word has become so overused that it gives the impression that everything can just be fixed with some medication, and/or perhaps a stint of sessions with some professional mind detangler. Not to say there is anything wrong with those solutions, just that they do not address my current state of mind. It is not a talk it out sort of thing, nor could it be solved by diluting it.

The word that feels more right for me is melancholia, and this sense of sadness that at times washes over me. Sometimes it is caused I think by those little strands of humanity that I encounter in my humdrum day-to-day, and they often lately sadden me. From the comments on social media on current events that get my hackles up at the absurd ignorance of some, to the vile glee some take at attacking another who is different. Empathy I find at times to have been abolished with the smartphone, and class, well, that antiquated notion our grandparents had of how to be civil, has seemingly been replaced with its antithesis, crass.

So, here I am imagining myself within a magnolia still-life, created by some anonymous artist. I placed it just there because my sister once suggested that I put something in front of me that I find inspiring.

In reality outside my window, I can hear the scraping of the plows next door cleaning away the layers of snow and gunk that has accumulated overnight, and I am thankful yesterday was payday and I didn’t have to ride Red. Now I am grateful for Red and blessed with a body and mind that can take me wherever I may need to go if I need to, but I am not naturally a risk taker, and such would be the case, I fear, as each day brings more of that fluffy white crap. Oh how I long for spring and given that it’s not officially Winter yet, and have another four months or so to go, I fear I may be doomed.

A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men… of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.” Bertrand Russell

:: brain pickings ::

So this nugget of wisdom passed by this morn, and again I found myself staring off into that magnolia still life, not conscious of staring, but staring none-the-less, thinking about boredom. Tis my lot of late, that state of boredom. I see the consequences of boredom every single minute I have to interact with my fellow humans, of both the strange and familiar kind.

As I’m reading the words, I have to pause again and again and reflect. It is so true, how so many fear boredom. Sort of like ageing women who fear gray hair and that fear drives them to spend money to look the way they think they are supposed to look. As if one can so easily do away with a thing that is inevitable, required, and that in fact I believe gives us our nobility, our status of the crone.

Yet, if there is one thing I have learned, that in pursuit of that elusive happiness, or the antithesis to boredom, the spirits that be have a rather sick sense of humour, and, one should be specific when they are asking for things. For instance, in the long hours, days, months of ‘excitement’ that filled the last days with Tim before his death by cancer, I would have given anything for these dull days I have spent gazing off into that still-life, curled up cross-legged here in my nook, bored with what I see before me.

“…do nothing with nobody all alone by yourself…”

:: ibid ::

So I guess, blessed be boredom. Blessed be these days when nothing seems to light the fire, where perhaps the kindling at hand is not dry enough, not quite ready to be ignited. Where things that once had entertained, die on the vine or seem too lame. A place where you find that engaging in those argumentative bursts seems to feed the wrong side, or you’re preaching to the choir, or falling on deaf ears. Is it all just a product of our fear of boredom?

I’d never thought of boredom in quite that way before. But it makes perfect sense, for how can you really know true happiness if you don’t experience true boredom? How may we find that sometimes elusive creative spark without the need of it? Very much like how much more you appreciate your life once you’ve borne witness to death.

Ah, yes, the yin and yang, those eternal cosmic opposites, how in order for one thing to be it must have its opposition.

Which, I fear seems to be a concept lost on many. Yet, in fact, it is in the very nature of the universe that opposites exist, for without them life would stagnate and die. Friction is what can start a fire, diversity is at its very core about opposites – negative/positive, north/south, man/woman, boredom/entertained.

I guess then that the wisdom here is that I should be far more grateful for boredom, I can see how an appreciation of it could lessen the addictive hunting we tend towards in pursuit of entertainment.

Think about it: how often you have been happiest resting on a bench staring out at a sea of nothing? How at peace one feels within the shelter of ‘boredom’, and I suppose that in order to get your monies worth, one must truly embrace boredom, to accept it as your personal saviour, for without it what significance would we give to the pleasures of joy and happiness?

bench of boredom - thetemenosjournal.com

There’s this meme that I see occasionally, with a photo of a bench situated within some magnificent landscape that reads “who would you like to sit on this bench with“, or some such. Whenever I am back in Dodge after my marriage died after Mom died after Tim had died, I spent many an hour walking past this bench, and as I’m thinking of that meme I realize that in truth I would like to talk to no one. Actually, I imagine that bench and I think that sometimes it is pure bliss to just sit there in my mind’s eye and stare out at the beautiful nothing that lies before me, watch it all swim, fly or otherwise go by, and I am just there, relishing that blissful state of peace.

Blessed be the bored?

Maybe. Perhaps it, in reality, is this gift that helps us to truly appreciate what entertaining things life can throw at us. Spend time with boredom, with silence, with nothingness, and in so doing perhaps we can conquer the draining effects of our fear of it.

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