Anatomy of Boredom
Originally published in Abditory Literary Magazine
Whoever thought of comparing an empty mind to a devil’s workshop was right on the money.
That is not what I should be thinking right now. You see, I’m on a vacation. I’m standing on a cliff, the site rightly called the Sunset Point, witnessing a gorgeous view of the sun crawling towards the western horizon, the sky bathed in shades of yellow, orange and red. There is an unmistakable scent of jasmine and the air feels clean (which, being from the city, I appreciate even more). There is nothing to not like here.
Except one thing.
I hate travelling. Or maybe “hate” is too strong a word. I just don’t feel excited by the idea of it. If I have to break from the monotony of everyday life, I wouldn’t tire myself; just take an off from work –drive to a nice café and have a burger and a beer, watch late night movies without worrying about sleeping early… You know, things the usual humdrum of your everyday life prohibits you from doing.
Travelling sounds so… taxing. Too much work and effort. And, not to forget, expensive. “You don’t need money to be happy,” my uncle used to say. That was when he was plugged with expensive tubes and hospital equipment as he got his cancer treated. But I think I understand what he said. Happiness should come from within; not from the money you make, the clothes you buy, the palatial house you live in, the sportscar you drive.
Or the places you can afford to travel to.
Nevertheless, here’s another thing about me. I like challenging myself. Of course, when I say that, what I mean is I unnecessarily throw myself in an uncomfortable situation to… well, test my limits. There is something about diving headfirst into the deep end of a pool when you don’t know how to swim, isn’t here?
So, when a friend suggested I should go on a solo trip, I took it up as a challenge. Well, initially I had dismissed the idea all together; even went on to say how it was ridiculous. In the days that followed, though, I mulled over it. I still wasn’t excited by the prospect of travelling, but, ultimately, I convinced myself that I should. Not to give myself a chance to get warmed up to travelling, but because that force (because I can’t describe it any other way) compels me to put myself in a setting that challenges me.
Each time I do so, I persuade myself it’s an attempt to push my boundaries, to chisel out a more refined, more resilient individual. Maybe that is that it is, or maybe it’s a lie you tell yourself to give your life a sense of purpose.
Anyhow, two days ago, I flew to this hill station. I kept my predisposed disinclination towards travelling aside and did my best to savour the trip. And I did enjoy. But, to be honest, the feeling didn’t last long. As I browsed through the menu of the restaurant I went for dinner the first night, I started fixating over how a similar meal back home would have cost a tenth of it. Or the roads I had to ride through in a cab to reach a tourist spot were riddled with potholes, and I started thinking how driving in the city, despite its pollution and incessant noise, was far better.
Just yesterday, after I finished my dinner and a short walk around the hotel premises, I retired to my room. Sleep wasn’t going to come anytime soon, and the TV was out. I sat beside the window, which opened into a lovely view of the pool surrounded by an oasis of trees and, beyond the hotel boundary, the beach. After fifteen minutes of staring out, trying to find something I could fixate to keep my mind busy, I started feeling restless.
Still, I forced myself to remain seated.
After all, I was on this vacation to “take a break,” wasn’t I?
And this is where that cheeky, deceptive little devil that is called boredom started growing in me. When I couldn’t pretend to enjoy the vista anymore, I decided to go to the casino downstairs. Boredom should never be allowed to manifest, because the over-compensatory decisions you make in that state of frustration (boredom breeds frustration, after all) cost you massively.
I know it’s arguable, but I would blame whatever happened entirely on the decision to… have this ridiculous vacation.
I entered the incredibly lit casino. The devil in the workshop that was my head was bored and needed an adventure. I let it take the steering of my actions, which is the only mistake I’ll admit to. To make this trip exciting, I let it splurge all my money on bets which I… lost. I exited the casino having lost more money that I had thought of spending. Funnily, the devil had absconded form his workshop.
If I was merely frustrated before, now I was furious. That is what boredom eventually grows into.
I packed my bags that very night. My room was reserved for two more days, but I decided (the only decision whilst that vacation that was on point) to leave early. The image of the sweeping valley I saw from the Sunset Point came before me, and I thought it would take a bit of the bitterness I was feeling away. But it didn’t.
I didn’t even wait till the next morning. I had a cab arranged right there and then. The hotel staff were surprised and maybe even concerned over my premature departure.
By next morning, though, I was back in my bedroom, no more worried about exhausting myself over “enjoying my life.” I opened the window, looking over the busy street below and a red brick warehouse right opposite, breathed in the city morning (slightly polluted) air, and smiled to myself.