Thursday, January 21, 2010

Undoing Boredom

Ah, winter. You really are a blessed, restful time of year. I come home, cook a little, clean a little, read, and enjoy the general calm and freedom of not having much to do. Last night I even played dress-up in anticipation for some parties and events in the near future. The tasks of winter are small on a homestead. They revolve around staying warm and keeping oneself usefully occupied. If you put off for the summer what you could have done in the winter, it will not get done. Thus, staving off boredom should not only never be a problem but cannot be allowed to get in the way of productivity (boredom being self-inflicted laziness, not actually an outcome of having nothing to do). As far as I am concerned, boredom was invented once we found enough things that were just senseless enough to be considered doing something while actually doing nothing at all. As a result, doing nothing became a task rather than a delightful part of the calmer moments in life, and it became something we are now incapable of doing without the help of electronic devices. Just relaxing is no longer possible. In times before TV, internet, radio, and other all-consuming amusements it was typical for a person to find herself with nothing to do and actually enjoy it as a welcome break. Now we call that meditation and market it for incredible amounts of money and status.

When blackouts force us away from the TV and internet, cities suddenly become friendly, almost euphoric places. We suddenly find that there's an incredible range of things to amuse ourselves not the least of which are our neighbors. Also, we learn to calm ourselves without the aid of electronic narcotics. When one does not have a TV or radio (yes, I am guilty for this much of the time) droning on in the background, the brain has moments to relax, wander, and, occasionally, to attain enlightenment, if only for a brief moment. Most importantly, it cannot convince the body to sit still and play solitaire because it's busy listening to the radio and doesn't want to do anything else taxing as it's already doing something, thank you. This creates and encourages boredom and incredible acts of desperately doing nothing useful for weeks on end, simply because one is addicted to the TV or internet, or, heaven forbid, solitaire.

Therefore, I must now commit myself to that which I have dreaded for a while - I must turn the radio off. I am addicted. I have the radio on when I write, when I think, and when I do just about anything, and, to be frank, it gets in the way of my thinking real thoughts. I will permit myself my favorite programs, an hour in the morning, and an hour after work or Marketplace (for the purpose of winding up and winding down, respectively). But I do not need to be so saturated with music and the news. I know more about the daily news than anyone else I know, and it gets in the way of normal, social interaction. Also, it's hard to maintain my own opinions when they're constantly being shouted over. I can still listen to Podcasts of everything at work when doing menial tasks, since I have no choice, at work, but to do boring tasks. However, I am through excusing doing boring, meaningless things at home on my own time.

Living a frugal, seasonal, and self-reliant lifestyle is work, but it's pleasant and useful work. Given enough distractions, however, it becomes impossible. The radio forgives an hour, midday, listening to Late Edition, which I hate anyway, just because it's something to do. This regardless of the fact that I would actually rather chop wood - it's simply the hurdle of actually getting my coat on and starting that gets higher because it would require turning the radio off, which is, after all, already giving me something to do.

I am done!

1 comment:

  1. I kind of needed someone else to say this for me. So I'm going to get up and actually make those ravioli that I've been talking up since yesterday.