Boredom really must be a modern phenomenon. Yes, my life really is so easy and convenient that often my biggest complaint is my lack of interest in it. For the past few weeks we’ve been without a car after an accident stole away our comfortable always-available transport bubble (no, no one was hurt). Luckily it’s beautiful hot summertime so I happily took the bus or walked for an hour instead of driving to and from work. I realised right away that the extra exercise would be beneficial but the benefits were far greater than I imagined.
Having so much extra down time in my life lead to some great new habits that I hope I can keep up. Being without a car meant hours of extra travel time each week and, because I wasn’t actively involved in my transportation any longer, I had an attention void to fill. Yes, I have an attention void. I can’t imagine why I would have trouble just sitting and doing nothing, since I normally have access to any entertainment or information I want in seconds, but my whiny brat of a brain just kept asking me if we were there yet. As you may have guessed by now, I do not have an iPhone.
So, what’s a girl to do? I tried relaxing, thinking and just being. This went well for a while but I was easily distracted. I started listening to audio books or music. Yikes. Still easily bored. I started reading. Every day. Excellent.
I then remembered what it’s like to really get into a book. To get sucked in so much that you’re inadvertently holding the book really close to your face, flipping the pages quickly and maybe even missing your bus stop (it only happened once). I finally got around to reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Many of its characters are nearly completely devoid of peace, empathy, anger and clear thought as they spend their perfectly normal and acceptable lives surrounding themselves with cheap, easy, sensory-overloading input. Sound familiar? What’s the antidote? Books.
(I know this is a bit oversimplified but not untrue. Just read it if you haven’t. You’ll see what I’m saying.)
It got to the point where I was reading even while walking home as not to miss any opportunity to take in more of the life and vigour available in a great book. Reading has really helped clear the haze that all the sensory overload created. Now, I know that I could have read more before we lost the car, and I’ll continue to read more now that we’ve bought another, but there’s nothing like time on your hands without TV or Internet to give you a kick-start. Our modern, western conveniences do us such a disservice.
Now, good night. I’m going to go have a hot bath before I drink a glass of free filtered water before laying my head on my down pillow in my temperature-controlled house. At least I’m sans iPhone… for now.