“Boredom: The desire for desires.” – Leo Tolstoy

Six weeks into our new socially distant reality, without the comfortable trappings of work and income, many of us are becoming a bit tired of the same old. The same four walls. The same people. (If you’re lucky.) The same essential trips to Publix, Walgreens, and your favorite neighborhood package store. What is a stay-at-home person to do?

“I am convinced that boredom is one of the greatest tortures. If I were to imagine Hell, it would be the place where you were continually bored.” – Erich Fromm, “The Dogma of Christ”

Many of our locals have creative ways of battling boredom. If you are a painter, a sculptor, a solo musician, a writer — and your work does not need collaborators — you think this extra time is a gift. Writers have the time necessary, often without deadlines, to write the pages and chapters that may become the next Great American Novel. Painters have time to gesso the next canvas or ready their watercolors for action. Photographers can organize their libraries or go out and take new sea/wildlife/sunset photos (while remaining socially distant, of course). Being a creative type myself, the one thing I’ve wished for forever is more time. Now that I have a little extra time, I’m using it to record songs I’ve written for eventual new CDs and downloads. I’ve previously mentioned some of my musician friends who are doing regular online concerts. I can tell you from personal experience that the one thing we all miss is sharing our music in front of a live audience. Until then, virtual it is!

“He had been bored, that’s all, bored like most people. Hence he had made himself out of whole cloth a life full of complications and drama.” – Albert Camus, “The Fall”

Other people have taken advantage of this time to tackle projects, catch up on reading, binge-watch their favorite new shows, or learn new skills. One of my favorite new pastimes, illustrated with revealing photos on social media (and certain other musings in this publication), is the rise of the amateur hairdresser. Born out of a need to keep oneself groomed (sort of), people are sharing their photos and videos of haircuts gone horribly wrong. Usually, it’s the style victim’s loved one who perpetrates the “creative coiffures” that require professional help … or downright scalping and starting over. Not since the advent of the Flowbee have more homemade haircuts been attempted. And not since the advent of modern civilization have more bad homemade haircuts been inflicted upon unsuspecting citizens.

“Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore.” – Jean Baudrillard

Self-improvement is a touchy subject, but with all this extra time, it is one that deserves a closer look. From getting exercise, to eating right, to reading more and developing new skills, this kind of time may never come again (hopefully). After a few weeks of corona-inspired eating whatever, I’ve gone back on the low-carb program that has helped me out big time in the past. A bit of exercise to top it off, and just maybe I’ll be in better shape once we open back up.

“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Looking at the time we have now as a gift makes it so much easier and nicer to pass. Being able to spend time with our loved ones and families is very special. And almost no one ever said on his deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” As an example, I’ve learned the game of cribbage, and now get my behind kicked on a regular basis by Sarah. But it’s quality time, and it’s time that neither of us had before our new reality came to pass.

“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” – Zelda Fitzgerald, The Collected Writings

Perhaps the answer to boredom is not to be boring. Just do something — anything — and discover its unique reward. (Disclaimer: Please make sure it’s legal.) And please tune in to my Social Distancing Concert 6, Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Facebook Live!

– Catch John Fridays at his Social Distancing Concerts on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/john.bartus. Music available on CDBaby.com, Apple Music and iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, Amazon Music, and wherever you get your streaming. 

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