A: Do you ever get bored?
M: Yes, I do get bored. But I go to great lengths not to.
A: What kind of things do you do to avoid getting bored?
M: It depends what time of day it is. During the day I ride my bike or go running, in the afternoon I read, and in the evenings I have sex and suchlike. At night I force myself to sleep, with passionflower that is.
A: Sounds like you are bored the whole time or that you’re on the run from boredom day and night.
M: Apart from when I am doing something with my friends, I am bored. I stop being bored when I’m at the cinema or out for dinner or at a concert. Otherwise I’m just bored.
A: What about when you are at work?
M: I get even more bored there. I hate my job. It’s at work I go on Grindr the most. What’s worse is that I must look productive while doing it.
A: Boredom is often associated with lack of activity, with empty, unproductive, inactive time, spent waiting for something to happen. But the truth is that when we are “bored” we are always doing something.
M: If only I could do nothing without getting bored. Boredom for me is a sense of discomfort that goes beyond what I am doing. Boredom doesn’t let me read. It doesn’t let me stay in bed and listen to music or watch a film in streaming.
A: If you can’t do any of these things, what is it you do? What do you do in those moments? From your description you seem kind of paralysed…Do you just stand still waiting for it to pass?
M: I walk around the house. I stand in front of the open fridge a lot. It’s as if I have the feeling that if I stand still, everything around me and that is making me feel bored will not change. And so I keep myself busy with inconclusive movements. Until I decide I’ve had enough and I go out running.
A: It’s a never-ending escape. But you also appear to be constantly busy … your body is always engaged in some sort of activity … with boredom always breathing down your neck. Is boredom stress? Is it anxiety?
M: To me boredom is to see that set of unchangeable things around me. Those unchangeable (or seemingly unchangeable) things I partly constructed myself and partly found already there. The things that make me grumble, and piss me off. That’s when anxiety and then stress get hold of me. Because I’m an anxious person.
A: It’s an ongoing whirlwind of energies…David Foster Wallace once wrote: “Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (tax returns, televised golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into colour. Like water after days in the desert. Constant bliss in every atom.”
M: But they are all wasted. My energies that is. Surprising isn’t it? At least he had fame and the pompous name to go with it. All I got out of it is my nervous gastritis and an irritable bowel syndrome.
A: I was wondering what your thoughts would be on this, and your answer doesn’t surprise me.
A: Because it seems to match perfectly with what he says about boredom. I realized that during a particularly hard time when I couldn’t bring myself to be productive, even though I was supposed to, I sank into what I recognized as boredom. The more I felt the need to produce the more I tried to escape that moment… I used to get bored, I “wasted my time” doing things I believed were absolutely useless. And I felt guilty. I associated boredom with that incapability of producing something that was … I don’t know … something that could be at least an attempt, an answer to what I was looking for. Something that could translate my thoughts into some shape, into a vision, maybe. And being incapable of doing this, in feeling distressed with my results, I realized (surprise surprise, as you say) that I was actually doing a lot. And that my incapability of not answering contained an answer … it contained a dynamic.
M: In my opinion, this is finding a way out where in fact there isn’t one. I believe that what happens to me and what has happened to you is something very common. However, each one of us defines it in different and available terms, making it seem a different story even when it is not so.
A: We need to look for outlets. Or maybe it’s even easier than that, maybe it’s only a matter of staying where we are in a different way, just changing our position.
M: Or maybe we must surrender and cry just a bit longer 😄
A: But we cry anyway …. Sometimes I can’t define the boundaries of boredom. We cry, we run, we fuck.
M: I personally complain rather than cry. And complaining is not as cathartic as crying all your tears. Running or cycling are cathartic for me. They are a good patch.
A: Complaining can be cathartic for me … at least you realize what a whiner you are, bothering those listening to you. How do you visualize boredom? Let’s close on this point … If I picture you running or whizzing around on your bike I see a route, a line. But I’d like to know how you see it.
M: A circle. It’s the perfect enclosed shape. You keep on running and never reach the end. And no corners to mark the way.
A: A circle is a good shape… whereas the ellipse wouldn’t pair well with boredom…
M: Even the ellipse could serve the same purpose, actually. But I am not so sophisticated. An ellipse just does not come to my mind when I can resort to the overworked circle, of course.
A: It’s raining here. I don’t know whether to escape and find refuge in the subway or stay home and keep on brooding about the things I am not doing.
M: You can keep on brooding about the things you are not doing even if you are out, can’t you? So go then. Get out.
A: Get out…I hate the rain… I’m like an animal who is afraid of water…