People get bored.
At least this happens to others, from what I hear.
But I was reading on a particular topic when the pandemic arrived and the lockdown started, and I have continued reading on that topic through months of upheaval and isolation and anxiety since then. On days when I did not greet a stranger and could not fully disengage from the horrors of the day’s news, I still found respite in the reading—in the escape, even if only temporary or partial, allowed by books.
(I also found respite in the garden.)
Months after bunkering down with books, I have not become bored. Far from exhausting my topic of choice, I have discovered the inexhaustibleness of the interest it holds for me. I have more avenues—not fewer—to explore. I have more books on my wish list, but also more awareness of how much remains to be gleaned from reading and rereading books I already own. There are lifetimes of knowledge waiting to be absorbed, and I’m still excited rather than tired by the thought of it.
I’ve been realizing lately how lucky this makes me.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I am unable to guarantee that everyone I love will survive this winter and live to see a vaccine. I’m unsure of my own way forward, personally, and I feel the precariousness of our collective situation acutely.
But I know what the most interesting thing in the world is, to me.
That’s little enough in the scheme of things, but it’s a pretty big deal in the life of a person. It suggests a direction, if not exactly a plan.
How many people lack a fascination they could lose themselves in for months at a time? How many people get none of the benefit such an avocation brings? How many people are more restless (and reckless) than they need to be in this new world we inhabit because they can’t be with others in the way they used to, and have not had much experience of accompanying or entertaining themselves?
How many people have no idea what the most interesting thing in the world is to them?
I feel lucky to have an answer, because I cannot imagine this past year without one.
It doesn’t matter what my answer is, because mine won’t be yours. Also, mine might not last forever. It’s allowed to change.
But I hope you have one, or I hope you find one. It helps with boredom.
(Oh, fine. Here’s a hint on mine.)