Boredom is Underrated

Life can be so ridden with boredom I find myself wishing for one of those spontaneous surprises that come out of nowhere and plops me in a whole new realm of possibilities. Something I’d only hoped or never even thought to hope. Something least expected. Something that elevates me into excited whimsy. Life needs that. Every life needs that.

Learning how to be bored is a talent if not a discipline. Uneasy with it at first, I consoled myself that boring was much better than drama-filled alternatives I’d too intimately come to know. I encouraged myself to be satisfied with boredom. Now I’m so content with it I’ve come to expect little else and find ways to give myself more time to be bored. I think that’s a good thing.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. [Mark 4:39]

mail1The mailbox is a bit of a distance where I live and in my well-rounded state of predictable boredom I came to check mail only a couple of times a week. Each time I pulled out a slew of junk mail with one or two envelopes of any significance, if that many, sometimes none. I wish I knew how to get rid of that stuff. It’s darned tedious, which, oddly enough, means boring. If I’m going to be bored I want it to be of my own making, not someone else making my boredom time boring work.

If I could stop junk mail I could get away with checking it only once a week and wouldn’t I be in my boring-glory then? In fact, my life is so boring I actually ponder perusing junk mail magazines as an entertainment option. There are a lot of new things I could buy to perk up my boring existence if only I would let go of a few bucks to do it, but I figure if I have to pay for a feeling of specialness then it doesn’t count.

Nope. I want a natural event of real life exuberance. I kept reassuring myself, when the time is right that special moment that shatters boredom with a new lift of excitement would come, because that’s how the natural tides of life flow when they’re at their best. It was all in the odds of how long I had to spend in boredom waiting, and, oh boy, how good it was going to be when that special uplift did come. The longer it took the better it would be and the more life I’d have under my belt to parlay well adapted boredom into a sense of genuine elatedness.

For a while now I’d felt the time for an uplifting life surprise was right, that in all of my boredom I’d finally categorized my priorities as they should be. I had boredom down to a science and was primed for that special something new. After all, my boredom gave little else to do.

It came yesterday.

Yesterday I pulled more than usual hauls of junk mail out of the mailbox, struggling tomail3 grasp oversized advertisements to ensure not to drop anything that might be important like a utility or car insurance bill. If I didn’t pay one of those and with how infrequently I do (don’t) check mail, God knows how long it’d be before I realized an essential was past due and then boredom would succumb to disgruntled agggravation and I couldn’t have that. Not disrupting the peaceful flow of these menial things plays a huge role in keeping life safely and soundly boring.

Because the trash dumpster is also a bit of distance, I’m exceedingly disciplined in how I accumulate trash and, as you might imagine, junk mail plays an important role. I time my trash runs to coincide with mail checks, because that streamlines things, leaving more time for more uneventful boredom. Ahhh, there is no greater peace than the peacefulness of boredom.

So as I’m juggling yesterday’s overload of junk mail, I pilfered the pile while in the car so I could dispense of the bulky junk to the back floorboard, where I’ll also cart my next load of mail2trash to the dumpster. This routine is critical to not disrupting boredom time and actually enjoy being bored rather than boredom being just enough of a passing fancy that I actually feel bored, if you know what I mean. Any experienced boredom-basker knows there is a fine line.

In all of yesterday’s hoard of mail there was a mere one envelope worth opening. (Well, just between you and me, that doesn’t include the other piece that came looking like a check. For a brief moment of reality abandonment I thought I might be able to buy my way into a nice surprise after all. Nothing good ever comes easy.)

The meaningful envelope was hand-addressed, an unusual trait in today’s times and it wasn’t one of those perfectly scripted-by-computer “handwritings.” This was sloppy, human handwriting. This was a real letter! I had received a r-e-a-l letter from a real human being!

As if that weren’t excitement enough and I suppose to subconsciously prolong this rare moment of suspense, I struggled to make out the name on the return address. I knew I knew it, I just couldn’t recall how I knew it. Then it dawned on me:  This was from the oncologist I had twelve-years ago during cancer.

I’d always sent a Christmas card to him at his office, each year appreciative for and counting the culmination of years of life I couldn’t have had without his compassionate care. I thought the letter must be from his wife (what man these days handwrites a letter?). Then I feared whatever it said, for it must surely be bad news about his passing or something, because when you live in my boredom bad news is about the only news you get via letter. That was really going to blow my boredom safety bubble to smithereens.

Inside was a handwritten letter from the doctor himself. After twelve years of sending cards, he was corresponding with me as a friend, not a patient. He spoke humbly of retiring, a small farm he’s working for himself, the things he’s doing with nature, and how he misses his practice and the people in it. He has found his own little piece of boredom. Then he mentioned coming into his own first year of cancer survival. Setting his health trauma aside, the life he was making sounded so blissfully and boringly peaceful I could almost put myself there. He’d shared his piece of boredom with me and his little plot of it had truly blessed mine.

In my boring, little world, it doesn’t get any better than that kind of special surprise.

When is the last time you handwrote a letter that could turn someone else’s everyday boredom into a real sense of purpose? Some of us have learned the value of loving human surprises in their purest forms and we find them so wonderfully enjoyable we’re willing to wait years for another.


In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, Parlay.


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