On boredom…



Make snow out of flour…

The topic of boredom has come up a lot lately…with clients, with acquaintances, with family. Last evening, I was guilty of a monologue regarding the hives that grow (in my head), when I hear this word.


While I practice and actually believe in empathy no matter someone’s point of view – valid – because it is their point of view, I have struggled with people claiming boredom lately. At first, I got super righteous and described to my spouse that my allergic reaction felt on par with every time some (privileged-in-my-eyes) person might complain that their stock portfolio is stressing them out. My social worker within, as they say – born into our profession, perhaps  – the social worker in me hears the idea of boredom or stock portfolio issues – and I immediately think of hierarchy of needs. I think of my work with persons who are chronically homeless, I think of clients or colleagues who wish for a safe place to sleep, I think of people on the threshold of psychosis (the terrifying state where awareness meets the edge of a spiral) and I think of brothers and sisters of different skin tone from my own – and I automatically think, boredom? Stock portfolio? Really? Many people might be glad to have what some might coin #privileged problems.

My spouse felt I was being unfair. And, like most any spousal disagreement, he is not entirely wrong (just like, 99%, right? wink wink). The belief, he supposed, was itself too generalized. Dang it, he has a point. In my line of work, after all, I do not see much variance between the haves and the have-nots regarding hierarchy of needs. After all, there is some alleged research that says beyond a certain base income or poverty level, suffering is merely a state of mind.

I get that. I can absorb that. I witness the inner pain of the highly pressured teen student; I witness the dutiful spouse who gives of their health for the pride of the family; I witness the person who surrendered their own dreams and imagination – to stay the course for basic freedoms or finances.

But, why then – do boredom and stock portfolio references illuminate as my privileged problem? 

It’s a bit ironic, I suppose. It’s kind of my take-back on trauma. It’s my take back on my own sense of an oppressed experience – an experience less defined on my terms, often, and evolved til devolving from identity as seen by others – religious minority, female, abstract thinker, introvert (…less than, as you should be, or as I know you to be); a long standing burden. I’m the problem solver, the saint, the mascot, the “Jew that I know…but she’s not that Jewish.” I’m the survivor, the terrified of…because it happened.

I’ve had to define and redefine my situation for as long as I remember.

And for that, now, in irony – and a sort of taking back of trauma – as the world struggles with a very real global trauma – I look into the faces of people who think something will make or break them. I listen to people who consider that they are bored, victim of the way things change. I listen to people acknowledging, perhaps, as if for the first time – the nature of the universe is impermanence and chaos.

And I say: listen to me – my friend, my brother and sister, listen to the wisdom from previous survivors – your personal definition, or ability to imagine and adapt to right here and right now, it is bound only by your willingness to redefine your situation.

Welcome to the other side, we are a land of nomadic wanderers. And, as the bumper sticker goes, “Not all who wander, are lost.”

Stay safe, healthy, connected, and nourished – that is all that we need to survive. The rest, icing…

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