I'm almost... bored. It's an unfamiliar, uncomfortable feeling. Unlike
those who become dependent on our society's ubiquitous indoor
entertainment plumbing and then die of thirst when the faucet runs dry
("300 channels and there's nothing good on! Panic!"), I've always
prided myself on the ability to distill stimulation from a variety of
sources, even (or especially) condensing it out of thin air. Thus, the
recognition of boredom is embarrassing and humbling, an admission of
I've been bored before, of course, in the sense of isolated bubbles
floating here and there in my typically torrid and frothy stream of
consciousness. But bubbles tend to be short-lived. Piano, programming,
basketball, walking, writing, reading -- there's always something to do.
At the worst of times, I've even been known to turn to
random Google searches or
And when there's nothing else, there's always the universal utilitarian
(It's not that I particularly enjoy doing housework, really. But at the
end, there's an undeniably pleasurable sense of a job well done, and a
feeling that the state of the world (or at least the house) is better than
it was before. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. Thus, when
it comes time for housecleaning, I throw myself into the task with all the
fervor of a hardened Marine storming the enemy shoreline.
"This is my vacuum, this is my mop! This is for sucking, this cleans up glop!" In this way, the house avoids the descent into
anarchy, and we can all sleep soundly without choking to death on godless
Anyway, as I was saying, fleeting boredom bubbles, evanescent
effervescence, this has never worried me much. But now seems different.
It's not a lack of Things To Do. It's more of a general pervasive
ennui. Listlessness, apathy, uninspiration, unmotivation, blah...
Somewhat fittingly, I almost don't even care enough to find words
to describe it. You get the idea. The river's drying up.
It's certainly possible that all this is related to my (mostly
self-imposed) period of unemployment finally surpassing the one-year mark.
Of the people I know who recently lost their jobs, most of them were only
able to survive a few months before succumbing to stir-craziness and
venturing out to seek some sort of external structure for their lives. I
was immune, for the most part, because I was able to devise enough
personal projects to saturate my free time, and because I have always been
an advocate of the freeform, stimulus-response lifestyle. "Eat
when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, screw when you're horny,
create when inspired." I didn't need structure. I had internal drive.
And that's exactly what seems to be running out. Not the stimulus, but
the desire to respond. The ideas still flow, and I'll still fire up emacs
or Photoshop or Cakewalk or CoolEdit, infused with the compulsion to
create... and then, sickeningly, all motivation evaporates, leaving
behind an overwhelming urge to be elsewhere. Even more disturbing, I find
that, with respect to the verse of philosophy above, inhibition of the last
pair of responses leads to substitution of the first pair. That's not
healthy. Eating out of boredom eventually leads to all sorts of Bad
Things, such as heart disease and wardrobe replacement and motorized
shopping carts and photographs with the word "BEFORE" stamped on them.
Anyway, because of these recent feelings, I'm starting to suspect that I
actually do require some structure in my life. That externally defined
responsibilities are a necessary evil to balance out the internal creative
pressure. Just as you can't define night without day, you can't moonlight
without a day job. Pleasure contrasts pain; definition demands
distinction. Yin and yang, heads and tails, Linus and Lucy, all that.
Stability lies in the balance.
In retrospect, it makes sense. The happiest and most productive four
years of my life were spent at the hardest school in the country.
Maybe next week I'll get a job and everything will turn around. Maybe
it's just a temporary lull, independent of anything external. Maybe I've
lost it for good. Who knows. But things can't be completely bad... I
wrote this, didn't I?