Friday, June 15, 2007

More thoughts on boredom

If happiness is achieving meaning in your life, and you repeat that feeling over and over again, wouldn't the meaning eventually become meaningless?  How can you grow as a person or a being if you never become bored?  I don't necessarily think boredom is bad: it can be indicative of growth and opportunity.  Don't you think?

I heard a story once about Mark Twain, I believe.  He had died and gone to heaven.  Once there, he asked St. Peter what there was to do in heaven.  St. Peter told him that he was able to do anything he wanted.  Twain replied that he had always wanted to play a musical instrument.  St. Peter showed him a cloud where he could go play the harp.  Twain went to the cloud and he began to play.  He was quite amazed at how easily everything came to him.  He spent hours listening to the various sounds he made playing different chords.  Twain played and played.  Then, he became bored and went back to St. Peter to find out what else there was to do in heaven.

I guess the point I take away from the story is that living (and apparently dying) is about learning how to constantly move and find new and interesting things in our lives.  Boredom helps us do that, I think, maybe more so than happiness.

I went to lunch with a friend of mine today and as we were riding along he glanced over at my arm and saw an indention.  He asked what that was on my arm.  I realized he was looking at the huge crater-like hole I have in the bend of (both) my arm(s), which I received from my early days of "donating" plasma.  I told him I used to donate and he asked me why.  "Because I was poor," I answered.  Seriously, I used to donate my plasma twice a week, for money.  I believe I used to get $10 for the first donation of the week and $15 for the second donation in the same week.  I didn't enjoy donating plasma, but I was in a horrible marriage at the time and my husband wouldn't work and he had gotten me fired from several jobs, so I couldn't work either.  Donating was a way to get a quick buck, which was always one more than I had in my pocket.

I'm not trying to turn this into a sad story, but instead, I think it was boredom that helped lead me to change my life.  I knew I wanted more out of life and more importantly, I knew that I could have more.  I grew up as an army brat, so it's not like I grew up really poor, watching my parents struggle which then just dumped me into an under-achieving lifestyle.  It's really quite the opposite.  I think growing up in the military actually afforded me opportunities a lot of kids didn't have.  I was continually exposed to various cultures and lifestyles.  I traveled quite a bit--visiting the Acropolis when I was 13, and venturing into East Berlin when the wall was still up, guarded and used.

I think it's because of all of this that I am easily bored.  I am lucky to have had such a rich, culturally diverse life and it's the "everydayness" in life that gets to me.  I know that probably sounds selfish and spoiled, but I really don't mean for it be that way.  So, I can blame my need for constant stimulation on my parents.;-) Just kidding.  Seriously, though, maybe it's the downtime, through the boredom, that helps me to find my next bout of happiness.  The one problem still exists though--dealing with others.  We share experiences with others and need others in our lives to help us get from one place to another, but dealing with them can be quite an experience.

In my boredom, I'm afraid that I hurt people.  For example, I know that my current work situation is putting a strain on my relationship with my husband.  Don't get me wrong, he's very supportive and a wonderful man, but nonetheless, it's a wrinkle.  I'm staying in Atlanta during the week and going home on the weekends.  He doesn't want to move and I don't want to push him to move, so I guess this is a compromise.

It was from my boredom of staying at home (after quitting my last job) that led me to a new job that is not boring.  I'm happy when I am working (most of the time).  When I'm not working, then I'm constantly trying to find something that is as fulfilling as working--which is very difficult to do.  When you have something in your life that is very fulfilling, but you can't do it all of the time, dealing with that "off" time can be difficult.

Anyway, I don't really know where this blog is going tonight but I just felt like writing.  But, following the logic I employed at the beginning, I will most likely become bored with my current job and search from something else.  My history seems to suggest that usually happens in three-year increments.  I don't know if that is because of my military upbringing (serving three-year service terms in one location) or not, but it does seem to be a pretty consistent pattern in my life.  Dealing with the people in my life have been in much shorter increments.....I think I get bored with them much quicker.

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