On Boredom

One monotonous day is followed

by another monotonous, identical day. The same

things will happen, they will happen again —

the same moments find us and leave us.

 

A month passes and ushers in another month.

One easily guesses the coming events;

they are the boring ones of yesterday.

And the morrow ends up not resembling a morrow anymore.

— Constantine P. Cavafy

 

Human beings, in their nature, are industrious, curious, and restless creatures. We are made to be constantly on the move, to create projects and tasks, and we also love to be confronted with challenges. We yearn for situations in which we feel tasked and meaningful in our efforts to bring them to fruition. Unfortunately, modern life created situations that are grossly mismatched and inappropriate with these needs; thus, we as individuals feel misfit and unhappy.

Confining routines, impoverishment of challenges, and a lack of diversity in our daily activities in modern realities are felt as deadly routines creating situations where many of us perceive life like “a tomorrow which is not longer like tomorrow but like an everlasting stinking yesterday.”

We, in our  everyday lives, end up feeling the dreary sameness as boredom. The French call it “ennui.” The ancient Greeks called it “acedia.”

Individuals end up feeling suffocated, meaningless, purposeless, and perceiving life as predictable and devoid of meaning. We end up feeling irritable, restless, and we may even often resort to mischievous impulsive acts setting aside our good judgement like “having an affair,” taking drugs or alcohol to excess, or starting an unnecessary fight.

This particular massive, widespread phenomenon creates a perpetual malaise for society. It may even contribute to strife and the beginning of unnecessary wars.

Unfortunately, human malevolent in its influence-felt state rarely is addressed, busy as we are to cope with problems of income and “doing a good job” in the dreary routine of the assigned repetitive tasks in our lives.

With a few exceptions, societies end up impoverished with very little prompting and  guidance for the citizens as to how to avoid such a state.

We surely need a group of strategies — a kind of lessons — in the art of Lifemanship. To participate in sports, in reading books, or in  activities involving nature, besides being couch potatoes — passive spectators staring at the TV — it is imperative for all of us to reflect on this problem and then take action fitting our  temperament to create a plan to avoid being afflicted with this dreary feeling of perceiving life like a disease. Athletic activity, exercise, walking in the woods, participating in social and spiritual activities, reading books, getting involved in political and civic activities, are a few examples.

We should do these activities even though we feel burdened with the survival tasks which we all have to deal with, and which are the very source of the boredom.

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