“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.” ~ Bill Bryson, from Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America
Saturday, late afternoon. Overcast and 50 degrees.
Well, guess what. No, really. Go on. Guess who has come to visit me again . . . My old friend Insomnia. Got to sleep somewhere around 5:30 this morning only to be awakened a few minutes later by Tillie the Lab who deemed it time to go out. When I was finally able to roll out of bed, my head felt as it if was contained in a vise. Still sitting here squinting, so I’m not sure how far I’ll actually get today.
Hot shower and lots of steam loosened the tightness a bit, but not enough for full relief.
So I’ve been pondering some odd things lately, like life, in general and my life here, specifically. Quality of life, as in how would I describe the quality of my life. And more specifically, temperament of life, as in how would I define the essence of my life.
For one thing, Corey asked me how I can stand it not to have left the house in weeks, and I really had to think about that. On the one hand, it bothers me a great deal, much more than it did say two years ago. I miss getting in the Rodeo and driving. I miss seeing Olivia on a regular basis, but do I miss those things enough to cross the threshold to venture into the open air, the wide world beyond my doors?
I’m not sure. I know that’s a cop-out answer, but for now, it will have to do.
“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” ~ Donald Miller, from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
Two days ago I had big plans to take Tillie for a walk, only to find it raining when I looked outside. I’m not made of the kind of stuff to begin a regimen in the rain, at least not a walking regimen. So that’s on hold, and unfortunately, I may have already lost the momentum. Sad, really.
But these things lead me to my real question: Am I a boring person? I know that I certainly wasn’t boring when I was younger. And I also know that growing older does not necessitate a move into boring land. So what gives?
Have I lost that ineffable spark, that je ne sais quoi that made me the kind of person around whom people gathered. I’m not talking about popularity, the kind that makes everyone want to be your friend, as I was never that person. But I remember those days during which I always had a circle of friends, and we were doing—talking, arguing, laughing, pontificating, whatever. And we seemed to end up in my car or in my office or at my table.
I’m not sure if I am describing this accurately, so let me back up here. I was never ever mainstream, never ever the girl who attracted all the boys because I was pretty and sweet, never ever the Homecoming Queen. Instead, I was interesting, which is such a nothing vapid word, really. Mysterious, maybe? One of my former teachers wrote something about me being the woman of mystery. I liked that. It fit.
So where has that woman gone?
“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.” ~ Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes”
Has that woman become so sedentary, so sedate, so tedious? Am I now just humdrum?
It pains me even to consider this, but I think that I must. And if the answer is yes, what do I do? Do I do anything? Do I simply keep this to myself and hope that no one else notices? Surely other people have noticed, say, my family, my spouse? Am I the last to know?
Is this just a phase?
Or, and she pauses here for dramatic effect, is it life that’s boring and not me? Are we both boring? Am I bored with life? Is life bored with me?
I have to tell you that until a couple of days ago, I really didn’t think of myself as boring, nor did I believe that I lead a boring life, but now, I have to admit that perhaps both are true: I am boring, and my life is boring. Of course, I must also admit that this is how a racing mind works, tricking itself into believing things that may or may not be true.
Let’s back up, once again. I know that there are many things that I want to do; many, many things that I want to see; many, many, many places that I want to experience. The bucket list, remember? I also know that on any given day, I have many, many things to say, to share, to impart. So perhaps I now find myself in one of those valleys, one of those expected but unwelcome forays into—shudder—normalcy, and because it is normalcy, I am thoroughly at sea . . .
“There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.” ~ Kurt Cobain
I know that my children must find me boring. After all, what do I do, really? Do I go out and greet the day with a smile and open arms? Hardly. Do I saunter about, full of self-assurance and charisma? Once upon a time maybe. Do I sit around in black yoga pants and white cotton sweaters and pour my life out onto a screen for anyone to see?
Yep. That would be me. Is this boring? Admittedly, some days it really is, but more days than not, it isn’t.
I think we get bored with life when we are hating life, and there were many times in the past when I hated life, hated my life, but this isn’t one of those time. I do not hate life. I do wish that some things were different, that, for instance, I were sitting in my office pretending to work but instead writing this blog, that I had on real clothes, that I had people in the offices next to me, some of whom I liked and others of whom I detested. You know, real life.
If I could change just one thing, just one, it would be that I still had a career. But wait. If I were smart (and we know that there are many times in which I am not), should I not embrace the freedom of not having a career and all that is entailed by the supposed free time? Of course I should. But one thing they don’t tell you is that freedom is so much more interesting when you have money.
“We must never, ever be boring.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters
By money, I don’t mean rich. I just mean enough money to go places, see things. Enough money to sit in a coffee shop and read a book.
So I suppose what this lull boils down to is the essence of my life at present: Our income has been cut quite a bit, we are in the post-holiday monetary slump, Corey is between hitches, our utilities are in jeopardy. Oh, and add one other thing: I’ve been stretching out my anti-depressant to make it last until payday. That little detail there.
But all of that aside, one thing I have never ever wanted to be is boring. I have never wanted to bore those around me, but I think that I am, and this concerns me. How do I fix this? I’m going to have to ponder this whole thing a bit more, preferably once the headache is gone, and I’m not squinting, and my serotonin levels are back to what they need to be.
Perhaps I should just trash this entire post, but because I like to keep just about everything, I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to put it out there so that I can share my boringness with the world.
I think that I need some dragons to slay. Heh.
More later. Peace.
Music by Ane Brun, “The Light From One”
No matter how I turn
the magnificent light follows.
Background to my sadness.
No matter how I lift my heart
my shadow creeps in wait behind.
Background to my joy.
No matter how fast I run
a stillness without thought is where I end.
No matter how long I sit
there is a river of motion I must rejoin.
And when I can’t hold my head up
it always falls in the lap of one
who has just opened.
When I finally free myself of burden
there is always someone’s heavy head
landing in my arms.
The reasons of the heart
are leaves in wind.
Stand up tall and everything
will nest in you.
We all lose and we all gain.
Dark crowds the light.
Light fills the pain.
It is a conversation with no end
a dance with no steps
a song with no words
a reason too big for any mind.
No matter how I turn
the magnificence follows.
~ Mark Nepo
6 thoughts on ““I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.” ~ Edward Gorey”
Yep – a good dragon slaying could get your juices flowing… Something to be passionate about, something to be excited about. Something to lay awake and scheme and ruminate over. A possibility. Something to wish for to live for – not forever but today, right now, this minute. At least in my experience.
Also in my experience, from time to time I have not had a clue what that thing was and I have dabbled here and dabbled there and tried to revive old passions whose thrill had long expired, plodding through the days doing the bare minimum to keep the baying world at bay.
And then, again in my experience (and that is ultimately what I must go by) something sparks, often unexpectedly, and lights and grows and shoots spring from it and I am off and away…
Now I don’t expect that helps a whit – other than maybe knowing it happens to other people too, people like us who see and hear and understand a bit too much… siiiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………
Oh yes. It does help. It always helps to know that others are out there feeling the same things, going through the same troublesome times………………..
I don’t know, Lita. Maybe what I’ve told you is illusion? I feel as if I am walking a tight rope. Part of it is the changes in the world – the lack of being able to build savings – not being at the age or superb skill level where finding a good job is easy… And, not being able to change things so that expenses are smaller… And everyone depending on me alone.
I do like coffee shops, but I’m not really comfortable reading there. Lots of students inhabit ours, so the demand for tables is always high. And, because there are so many students, if you go there regularly you see people you know. (Since I am a student.) And there’s always a couple folks who draw people together to talk. In a way, the talk and bustle of others is a source of ideas, but I’d rather read alone.
There were some people at school who seemed to have large circles of interesting, intellectual friends. That appeals to me, and yet, I pull back. I guess I could do a small circle… Sometimes I remove myself because I feel like I am only learning to be an intellectual, or maybe, pretending to be…
Once I lived in a subdivision and a friendly neighbor with some same-age children used to have me come for coffee in the morning. That was cool. Sometimes I feel like there must be dozens of women out there who would welcome a friend… and yet we pass each other by, not daring to talk – or not daring to TRY to talk again….
Today was an amazingly warm day in the middle of winter. I watched the bees pollinate the mahonia’s yellow blossoms… picked some camellias, piled some dead branches on our fence of dead branches… stared into a tree looking for the bird that seemed to be singing “eternity, eternity, eternity”… and dreamed about building a secret garden…
I hope that you had a good day…
Isn’t all of life illusion, really? We think we know, but do we know?
Not being able to build savings is worrisome, that I do know. Finding a job, taxing. School both energizing and depleting.
I wouldn’t like a crowded coffee shop. The conversation levels would diminish the sounds of the machines.
I don’t think that you are pretending to be an intellectual at all. You have so many things to say, so much wisdom to impart, but you’re right, people don’t talk to each other, women especially.
Eternity, eternity, eternity . . .
You aren’t boring. You’re still the interesting, mysterious woman. She’s still there…
I am boring. I’m not bored, though. I’ll never be bored if I have a wall of books to read or a library somewhere… I don’t have a lot of friends – no circle of like-minded souls like I used to have when I was young. I do have some good friends, both locally and far away, that I connect with: these people are pretty much open and unjudging. My local friends don’t share specific interests all that much, but I’m there for them and they’re there for me. I have no bucket list. I hope for no lover. I don’t mind not going places. But, I do want nature: more nature.
Sitting in a coffee shop reading a book looks good in my mind. And, I’ve done it plenty. But… it’s really not all that rewarding. The best thing that’s ever happened to me in a coffee shop was having a stranger come up to me and specifically ask about book clubs in the area. Now, that’s pretty amazing. It was fun anticipating her arrival to the book club – and sad when it turned out that she was only here temporarily. I like the smell of coffee shops… I’m sure there are people who go there to connect with other people but I don’t meet them. There is no charming 60ish gentleman lurking there, lonely, wishing for someone to discuss books with, to do genealogy with, to tell stories of gardening, letterpress, printmaking… And, if there was, he’d be looking at the 20 somethings or the 30 somethings or the 40 somethings. I think sitting in a coffee shop is more appealing in thought than in reality. Of course, I do like the coffee or tea there… Also, it’s expensive… If one went there for tea every day, one could not go for 2 months and have enough money to buy a $240. fountain pen. Or $240. worth of poetry books. Cheaper really, to make my own tea and go sit in a garden… a park, a cemetery, the beach…
I wouldn’t say hating life makes you boring. I don’t hate life. I have made mine small and quiet. And, perhaps it would be larger if I had money… Perhaps I would travel some locally and try and find places to take wonderful photographs… I’d say fear or lack of courage or even tiredness caused my horizons to shrink. I’ve never been one to jump and learn to fly on the way down. I think I’ve made my life small and quiet because of a crazy, messy, busy time about 6 – 10 years ago… I’m just balancing, maybe, or was craving peace.
I hate getting dressed up. Jeans or yoga pants sound good to me. I’ve never liked to dress up. There’s a Christian school here where Moms have to wear dresses when they pick their children up! My life is casual and I want it that way.
I guess we always want to have something that we can be admired for… But, you know we raised these kids to be adults, which is no easy job… And you do such an amazing job on this blog and F&L. I’m sure Tillie would vote for you as “best dog Mom”. It’s not like you aren’t an amazingly vital, smart, talented, complex, wonder woman…
Yes, Lita, slay one of your dragons… Why not figure out how you could make writing every day happen? You want it. It’s an admirable thing to do at home. It would give you a job, a goal, something to feel good about. You trained for it. The rest is just discipline. (And yoga pants are just fine for a uniform!) And writers are always mysterious…
I think it was in the book, The Power of Habit that the author talked about how he wanted to play guitar more, but he didn’t do it. So, he bought a guitar stand for $3.00 and put the guitar in the middle of his room where he had to walk past it and look at it. You analyze why you do or don’t do things – you make the ones you want to do easier to do – and the ones you don’t want to do harder to do.
If I lived nearby… I’d want to be in your circle of friends…
If you lived nearby, we’d drink tea together and talk about books.
What appeals to me about reading in a coffee shop is not the people who inhabit it, but rather, the smells and the ways in which all of the sounds mingle and kind of become a comfortable backdrop. I’ve never talked to anyone I don’t know in a coffee shop (other than the baristas). And yes, I agree, it’s overpriced and expensive, but for me, it’s a treat.
I admire your life. You seem very comfortable with where you are and what you are doing, something I don’t think that I have ever been. I go through these phases in which I am uncomfortable in my own skin. You have deliberately carved out your niche, and you fit into it quite nicely.
I think the only people are age who have large circles of friends are pseudo celebrities, drug dealers (if they’re still kicking), and that’s probably it. Having a large circle can be just as tiring as it can be invigorating. But I do miss friendship on a daily basis.