How To Even…Deal With Boredom

By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe

Life is a lot. It’s like your friend who wants to meet for lunch so they can spend the whole time never shutting up. And everything they say is about something you wish you could do but can’t afford or don’t have the time or the flexibility. And they’re just yelling and yelling and you don’t even notice the waiter and can’t get a refill on your water and you suspect a lot of what’s being said doesn’t matter but you can’t tell because it’s all coming at you so fast and loud.

Life is like that, although we hope it lasts longer than lunch.

The takeaway here is that, most of the time, the great thing about being alive is that it’s horrible. If you have a job, that’s horrible. If you don’t, that’s horribler. If you have a job you enjoy, you’re delusional, which is the horriblest of all.

And it’s not just having to work that’s a bummer. If you’re younger, it’s school, which seems like the most horrible thing ever invented, until you find out it isn’t because you’ve just started working for the rest of your life at a job.

If you’re even younger, your parents — who you are supposed to trust — are trying to get you to sit on a potty, which is a chair that opens into a hole where all the monsters live. Thanks, mom and dad! So much for living the free and easy poop-in-your-pants life! You won’t be able to get back to that until you’re in your 20s. The rest of your life will be a similar series of disappointments; just when you’re comfortable having juice in a sippy cup, they make you drink out of a glass. And no more boob milk for you; now you’ve got to eat vegetables.

On the other hand, if you’re older, nothing on you is working and yet everything hurts.

And then there are mosquitoes.

Our point here is we’re incredibly fortunate that Life is constantly swatting us in the face with a mackerel. We are — in fact — stupid lucky because it keeps us distracted. And being distracted keeps away the greatest enemy of humankind — boredom.

What Is Boredom?

Someone once said that only boring people get bored, which is about the most boring thing a person could say. Someone ask Alanis Morissette if that’s ironic. She’s a wise, wise shaman.

Here’s the real truth. Boredom was invented in 1952, in a small town in rural Saskatchewan. Boredom is manufactured and distributed by a race of tiny people called Ennui’ians who live in your hair, your ears, your sinuses — we’re not trying to freak you out. They’re invisible, but they’re there. Okay, maybe we are trying to freak you out. A little.

But it’s okay! They’re benign. Also, they’re really good about washing their hands, so. These little folks want nothing more than to hang out and party and generally have a good time. They’re like littler hobbits, and like hobbits, they smoke a lot of pot. You know how sometimes you get a song in your head or catch a whiff of smoke or BBQ or something strange you can’t place? You assume you’re having an aneurysm and go about your business, but really there are little folk having a cook out on your eyelashes, or somewhere, and they’re listening not at all ironically to that song from the 90s you’d forgotten with good reason.

Anyway, the thing is, if you’re moving around too much, jogging or doing exciting stuff, all that sudden movement can cause an Ennui’ian to spill its banana daiquiri. And that would be a party foul. So, they invented boredom to calm everyone down. Also, if you’re binge-watching Netflix or Hulu, they can watch Stargate: Atlantis again on the big screen (for them, it’s big).

How Does Boredom Work?

Basically, Ennui’ians take shifts living in your ears, which, you know, isn’t great for them. They have a special apparatus set up that broadcasts or “whispers” discontent into your ears while you’re sleeping, sitting, driving, whatever. They don’t target any particular activity, but work in broad strokes; the more generally bored you are, the less likely you are to pull yourself out of that morass and do something shaky. It’s a living.

Where Did They Come From?

Seattle, back before it was cool.

Is Boredom Really That Bad?

Yes.

But…

Look, you’re probably thinking that boredom can’t be worse than — for example — any number of awful diseases, or losing your limbs in a car accident, or seeing your loved ones spontaneously combust in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, or watching a Presidential press conference (shudder). And…we’ll concede that you may have a point, there. Ok, fine. But if you’re suffering from boredom, those things won’t even matter. You’ll be too apathetic and listless to notice. You’ve probably stopped reading, in fact. You may think it’s our dumb puns, but trust us; it’s the Ennui’ians. They don’t want you shaking from laughter and making Bill spill his Mai Tai.

How Can I Combat Boredom?

There are several approaches you could take. You could try to attack boredom at its source, which would mean going to war with the Ennui’ians. An important thing to consider is that there is most likely a thriving community of Ennui’ians living on you right now, with an active arts community, and quaint little riverside area, and a revitalized downtown. We’re not going to talk about the evils of gentrification, or how your nose used to be full of artists but now only investment brokers can afford to live there. We’re just saying there are a lot of them, and sheer force of numbers is an important consideration.

But wait, you may be saying, I’m way bigger than them! True, but have you ever tried to punch a mosquito? Highly ineffective.

Another approach would be a peaceful resolution. Reach out to your Ennui’ians. Maybe make a schedule where you’re free to play racquetball from 3–4 on Tuesdays and they won’t schedule any parties then. Sure, it’s an inconvenience, but they have just as much right to life as you do. Or, anyway, they know the vulnerable spots on you and you have to sleep sometime, so.

Once you’ve worked all that out, you’re free to explore your newfound stamina.

Finding Stuff To Do

When looking for stuff to do, it’s important to ask three questions:

  1. Does it suck?
  2. Are people watching?
  3. Cake.

Let’s start with the first question. Does it suck? Well, does it? (some kind of sliding scale?) If it does, you then have to consider whether you want to keep doing it in hopes of building character or move on to something that doesn’t suck. Or sucks less. If it doesn’t suck, you just might have found something to do, you lucky catdog.

The problem with things that suck is they suck. Also, there’s a decent chance you’ll succumb to natural boredom while doing them. So maybe try to find something that doesn’t suck.

Let’s move on. Are people watching? The main consideration is whether you want them to be, and since you’re not five, the answer is probably no. If you are five, you really shouldn’t be reading this blog. But since you are, hey, go tell your parents to buy our books, and if they don’t, throw a huge tantrum. It will be funny!

Okay, sorry. Back to it. Someone seeing you do a thing is a pretty big deterrent to doing that thing for many of us. Think of it like this: what are those people thinking? Is it bad? It is, isn’t it? They’re totally making fun of me, aren’t they? I knew I shouldn’t do this.

As you can see, this is an unenviable situation for anyone to be in. Unless you’re the person watching, who probably wasn’t actually watching and might just be trying to remember the name of that one guy in that one movie while you happened to be looking in the general direction of this person doing a thing.

Cake. Do we really need to spell this one out? Cake is cake. It’s a constant, like gravity or film reboots of 80s TV show continuing to be made even though the vast majority of them are awful. Cake is good and we are grateful to Cake for allowing us to bask in its glory. Also, did you see that now they’re putting pie in cake? We’re not sure how we feel about that, but we’ll eat it, because it’s cake.

***

We’ve thrown a lot of information in your general direction, and there’s a decent chance some of it even stuck for a moment, before sliding grotesquely to the floor while someone played a whomp-whomp sad trumpet riff in the background. We guess the big takeaway from all of this is that, one, Cake, and two, there are definitely little people living on your body, right now, and they are definitely partying and having a way better time than you are. What should you make of that? We can’t say. They’re mostly too stoned to do any real damage, and they may or may not be making fun of you even as we speak. Like your mom.

The only blog you’ll ever need. By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe Archives: https://medium.com/@howtoeven/how-to-even-archives-3eeea1f52d31

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