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Lost in Tulgey Wood

"I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge." J.R.R. Tolkein

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Location: Canton, Ohio, United States

The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure --Mikhail Baryshnikov

Monday, August 15, 2005

Boredom Equals Despair

I must have had a good vacation. At one point I couldn't remember what day it was and that is usually a good indication that one is rested and ready to return to the pending routine. I also know I've had a good vacation when ennui sets in. This time around, however, I just blew right by ennui and went straight to boredom, which happens to be a slick slope to despair for yours truly.

Just so we have our facts straight, ennui (pronounced on-wee) means "a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction." It's French, so it's more glamorous than simply being bored. Ennui is a kind of boredom that I enjoy, especially if I can be bored with something more amazing than my ordinary life. When I'm tired of staying at a swanky inn that's staff is bending over backwards to ensure my every satisfaction, I know I've had a good time. My ennui is my souvenir. And that's about as much French as you are going to get from me.

But Saturday night I found myself bored. Dangerously bored. That is, I was so bored that, when walking by an innocent television set, I was momentarily compelled to put my fist through the screen just see what would happen.

When I would become bored as a child, my Dad would order me to go clean out my closet, which was terminally disorganized. My Dad admitted much later that he didn't have me clean out my closet out of a sense of neatness and a need for order (although that is part of it). He knew that if I were moping about the house, flopping onto the sofa and proclaiming boredom he'd better try to redirect my energy from the theatrics of ennui to something a little more productive, lest I begin to whine in earnest. He knew it would only take a few minutes for me to find some long-lost toy to play with or an old book of photos to capture my attention and I would be occupied for hours. Yeah, he's smart like that.

As a depression sufferer, I have to watch myself for warning signs so that I don't find myself flopped on the couch in a puddle of despair, paralyzed. If I don't have anything to do that snares my mind (case in point: last Saturday night), I begin to worry and fret. Some degree of worry and fret are necessary, I would argue for survival. I mean, it is important to monitor your bills and worry if you're coming up short and fret about how to make the ends meet. But it's not a good idea to follow the idea to an image of you, with no home, no money, your marriage destroyed and your children wards of the state.

At this point I put my head in my hands and covered my eyes. Doc noticed and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I was desperately bored; that is, so bored that I was moved to despair. "That's a pretty far jump from bored to despair for most people," he noted. "Not for me," I assured him. So we grabbed up the Mille Bournes cards and began to deal.

You may wonder, Alice, if playing cards to ward off worry and fret is like fiddling while Rome burns. Perhaps I should be this worried, you think. After all, many destinies are possible. But in reality, I'm not really that worried. I have a Plan and a Plan B. There is no way my family would allow us to slide into that horrifying a state as I described above. But therein lies what I've been trying to tell you: I suffer from depression, my mind will lie to me, given the chance.

I am a firm believer of the wisdom of Isaac Watts: "...Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do." I am a case study for this proverb. If I am idle, I become bored. If I become bored, I become open and susceptible to my own imagination. And if my mind has a lie he'd like to test out, he'll use it and I'll end up flat on my back out of commission until I tackle the lie head on or figure out a way to side-step it.

Fortunately, I get warnings when I become vulnerable. My stomach starts to feel like I've had too much cotton candy and Diet Coke. I begin to feel jittery. I start to imagine vividly the violent destruction of inanimate objects around me. It is a good thing that these feelings are 99% unwelcome and trip the red alert signal. When I hear the alarm, I can begin to pull myself together and move forward, searching for a closet to clean or a deck of cards to deal. Cheating the devil once more.

I am glad to be back at work and done with vacation. It's quiet here and I spend most of my time exhausting my mind. It's good work if you can get it. On my way home, I will listen to David Cross' comedy CD: "Shut up, You F***ing Baby!" Perhaps I will take the top off of my car. By the time I get home, my mind will be ready to spend a precious two and a half hours with my babies until they go to bed. Then Doc and I will retire to the Lodge, where we will catch up with each other, play some cards, watch some M*A*S*H and hit the hay; too tired to think.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

I wish I knew, I was bored, too. There was something very depressing about Saturday, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Next time feel free to give me a call!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

Hmmm... Does this mean you had an ennui-nie roast? (guffaw)

Ohh, tho don't I KNOW it 'bout keepin' close tabs on your own mind to keep the Dark Demons of Despair an' Destruction at bay! It's good you're in touch/in-tune with your triggers.

Actually, this will work out well in the long run: as Social Security will, no doubt, be in the toilet and we'll all have to WORK until we're 95 or else starve, you'll never HAVE to worry about retirement and all that time you'll have on your hands!

My problem right now is I WISH I was bored: to quote you, I'm so busy I don't know if I'll be shitting or winding my watch.

6:28 PM  
Blogger genn6 said...

orange, you're too funny....
something MUST have salted the karma Saturday, it was not a good night at all for anyone. My sister got into a physical brawl with one of her neighbours and is having pain in her back now; two of the guys in a group of friends did the same damn thing and one of them ended up in the hospital. Alcohol was involved in both.

But the Browns won Saturday. Was I the only one that did okay?

10:18 PM  

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