I know it is a luxury to even say that. If I were sick, caring for someone sick, working right now in a hospital or nursing home, or forced to stock groceries in narrow aisles for people who don’t seem to care one bit about safety and distancing, I doubt that I would complain of being bored. But I am healthy, my family is healthy, I have a comfortable home, piles of canned beans and corn and coconut milk in the pantry (well, the cellar hallway, which we call the pantry), and my little corner of Appalachian Ohio has very few cases overall. And I am bored.
Given our cautious natures, and belief in science, my wife and I are strict-to-the-letter about staying at home, meaning I go to the local grocery store once every fourteen days, in a mask, with hand wipes, and I walk around my empty neighborhood sometimes, but I go nowhere crowded, and I don’t approach my neighbors, and I don’t run little errands, and I don’t drive 90 minutes north of here to see my daughter, though I want to.
I stay at home. And I am bored.
I have five Zoom meetings this week (two non-profit Boards of Directors, a summer- conference-gone-virtual planning meeting, two students.) And I am bored.
I am busy as ever on editing projects, writing projects, teaching, e-mails, and performing the endless small tasks associated with running my magazine, and I am bored.
In the past week I have cooked a coppa roast, sliced onto polenta with black beans, stirred chicken tenders and arugula into seasoned orzo, made pork belly. I have massaged kale, roasted asparagus, tossed a salad of my own garden lettuce, with roasted pumpkin seeds. And I am bored.
I know boredom is seen by some as a sign of weakness, that life itself is a gift not to be squandered, that, in the words of G.K Chesterton, “there are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people,” and I should probably be far more resourceful, learn to play guitar, study Hindi, build a backyard potting shed, or sculpt a mountain out of mashed potatoes, but I am bored.
There is a voice in my head right now, nagging me, suggesting that it is a bad idea to even be writing these sentences, that I should be writing instead about how I am keeping up a brave front, about how staying home and masked is showing love and respect for my neighbors, about how we all have to pull together in this perilous time, about the gift that is my 16x16 foot side garden and how the bushes and birds out there give me such sustenance. All of that is true, and I probably should be writing about those aspects of our experience, but I am bored.
So bored, in fact, that I Googled the question “Can boredom be good for you?” and found out, of course, that it can. We used to be bored quite often, before cellphones, Netflix, Candy Crush. Our great grandparents lived without television. They sat on the front porch. A lot. Watched the sky.
Have you seen the sky?
Holy mackerel! The sky is pretty damn amazing.