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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, August 28, 2023

I’m boring.

I hate when I feel boring.

I’m so boring that I was thinking I’d use it as my word today because it’s the predominant emotion. But really, what would I say other than “I’m boring?”

Let’s reflect on boring. What is boring?

Boring is when you don’t care. No.

Boring is when you are disconnected. Maybe.

Boring is when you are disinterested. Closer.

No, wrong word. Boring is being UNinterested. Anything can be boring, even interesting things if you aren’t interested.

Being boring is different than being bored. Being boring is a double whammy because it means you are bored with your boring self.

There is boring and there is ennui. Ennui is the je ne sais quoi of boredom. I’m in a state of ennui.

Boredom is a mental state, that is certain. It has nothing to do with what is happening. You can be in the middle of a carnival and still be bored.

The annoying thing about boredom is that you can enter it without knowing it and for no reason whatsoever. Thing previously entertaining becomes boring.

Doing nothing does not mean being bored. Doing something does not mean not being bored.

It’s stupid.

Boring is the same. Even a birthday party can be boring if you have too much of it.

Boring is being disengaged. The question is: what makes a person become disengaged?

Repetition. Repetition gets boring. Do something enough times and your brain gets a little loose and then it detaches and flies off completely.

Being bored in an existential sense means being unfulfilled by what you’re doing. The littlest, dumbest things can be interesting as long as you feel like you’re doing something meaningful or worthwhile or engaging.

Cleaning the shower is probably the most boring task in the world, but once I discovered that a little baking soda will get that awful white tub actually white again, it was a whole new lease on life.

Now when I scrub the tub and I have little sparkles in my eyes. Can’t say it will last, but hey, you take what you can get.

You just have to keep those little interesting things coming. Something that fires up a few neurons and makes a tub interesting.

I feel like I’ve written too many words about being bored for it not to be a blog, so basically I just have to make it not a totally boring blog. Or maybe it should be boring, since that’s the theme. Even boring can be interesting if you think hard enough about it.

For something to be interesting it has to be emotionally or intellectually engaging on some level. You could be in the middle of the most exciting party or the most historic city or the most wild event but if your brain or soul aren’t on board… boring.

Something doesn’t have to be “good” for it not to be boring. You could be outraged and not bored. You could be miserable and not bored. You could also be perfectly fine… and bored.

I remember some years ago I hired a nutritionist because that’s what you do when you spend your whole life fat and desperate not to be, and she made me keep a journal about what I ate and when and why and all that stuff you’re supposed to do. And I did actually learn something. I learned that I eat when I’m bored.

So wait, this sounds like maybe I am bored 24/7. But hear me out. When I entertain and cook for people, I eat very little. I whip up everything from appetizers to entrees, giant artisan breads and multiple desserts. And I’m a whirlwind of cooking serving mixing filling refilling. I am delighted by it and not bored at all and usually eat the least amount as any other time.

However, the thing I remember triggering this revelation is that we had gone out with someone to dinner and I was bored to death. I don’t remember who, and if I did I wouldn’t say, but the conversation wasn’t entertaining and I spent all night stuffing my face.

It wasn’t about the food, it was about me doing something to entertain myself and food happened to be on the table.

Also I like food, so it’s hard to get bored that way, and to be fair, I also eat when I’m happy and when I’m sad and when I’m mad and when I’m stressed, so maybe that wasn’t the ideal example.

But food can get boring too, if you repeat it enough.

So yeah… repetition and disengagement.

Monotony. That’s the word.

Interestingly, doing interesting things is not an antidote to being bored.

Boredom is your brain saying that there is something else. It doesn’t always know what that something else is, because brains are stupid. You just have to flounder around for a while until something catches, like your sweater on a nail, and unravels the monotony of your life.

Like baking soda.

Surprise. Surprise is interesting. Not like a surprise party, but something unexpected. Like learning that the color of a chicken’s ears determines the color of its eggs. Like learning that chickens have ears.

Baking soda. Seriously, try it.

I have no idea how I am going to turn this into a blog but too late now. It’s 8:36 and I already cleaned up from dinner and sat down on the couch while Ralph plays Destiny and soon it will be time for word games so I’m in it now. Word games can be boring or not boring, depending on your brain state while you play them.

When word games get boring I play Solitaire. When Solitaire gets boring I play word games. The trick is to engage your brain, but not too much. You need just the right amount of challenge so your brain doesn’t wander off thinking about that stupid thing you said in fourth grade, but not so challenging that you’re too irritated to do it.

I think we also confuse boredom with lack of focus or motivation. Those are not the same things.

I get bored more when I am with other people than when I am alone, maybe because it requires a certain amount of engagement that is too hard. I’m least bored when I’m alone because I can usually entertain myself, except on days like today when I’m boring. My brain is an Alice in Wonderland of endless possibilities and freefalling madness.

But when you’re with people you have to stop that whole circus and get in the back seat of someone else’s car and pretend the scenery is really fascinating.

I’m not saying all people, all the time, are boring. There are a few that I like and would prefer to engage with than not. But it’s easier to be bored when you’re with people, maybe in part because you expect not to be, and when it isn’t the confetti popping you think it should be, you get bored.

That doesn’t really explain why I get bored with myself, but did I mention brains? Brains are stupid and they will think things all reality and logic to the contrary.

I am bored with myself when I have nothing new or interesting to say. Or think about. Or do.

When my own self gets mired in monotony and things become rote.

Boredom is inaction when you want to take action. It’s like winding up a toy and then putting it in a corner so it can’t get out.

I started this whole thing by saying I feel too boring to write something and this has not changed. I think maybe there is also a difference between being boring and feeling bored.

Feeling bored is thinking I can do/be more, but I’m not.

And not knowing exactly what to do about that.

Being interesting is hard and makes me want to take a nap, which is also boring.

Bored = feeling resistance.

The solution to boredom isn’t always to do something. The solution to being boring isn’t always to do something interesting. I think if you want to be less bored you have to practice being bored.

You have to sit there in the spaces between and just be boring. It is ok to be bored. It is not a thing that requires solving. I mean, if you’re in a constant state of boringdom, that’s a problem, but everything and everyone gets boring sometimes and I think if you try too hard to fix it then you just end up chasing shadows. It is possible to overstimulate your brain so you’re like a dopamine addict, always needing a little more and another jolt.

You need to be bored so you can remember what it’s like to not be bored. It’s impossible to be on all the time, even with your own self.

So consider this my brain-off blog post, where I gave myself permission to be bored. I hope I bored you a little, too, because just think how exciting baking soda will be in comparison.

Photo: even Hello Kitty gets bored sometimes.