Tuesday, 6 January 2009
The Art of Boredom.
The candles have burned down, the table is bare. Beloved visitors have left. The dog snores loudly, and the fine ash falls gently in the grate. Silence and ice are just outside the door, tapping on the window, fingering their way in through the keyhole.
Winter holds the garden in a tight, white grip; darkness comes early and leaves late. It is too cold to garden, too cold to walk with any sense of enjoyment. The washing up is done, the excess food is in the freezer. Now is the time for the fine art of boredom, a repetition of small events; feeding the stove, feeding the birds and the dog, feeding my mind. Above all - feeding my mind.
A close friend has just had eye-surgery and is unable to read. She never watches television, and her situation (she's a nun) means that she does not usually have access to radio or recorded music.
We had a long and paradoxically animated discussion about boredom. I think we concluded that it was both other people, and the lack of other people. A lack of the right people, and too much of the other kind. Then we had to decide which were the other kind. We laughed so much at our descriptions of boring people that we had to stop, as it was not good for her, post-surgically.
The more we thought about boredom, the better it became. Eventually the attempts at describing the state became impossible. Boring meetings become entertaining in the telling, and even just in the mental recall. Boring people become endearing, boring situations are laced with possibility.
So what is boredom? Perhaps the dog, today, demonstrates its finer qualities (incidentally, she wraps herself in that duvet, sometimes completely). Perhaps it is the skill of mental disengagement, a freedom to wander along the paths of semi-consciousness while engaged in repetitious tasks - or engaged in nothing at all?