Been pretty bored lately.
Life goes on, not much that’s exciting. No drama to stir me up and get the juices flowing. No moral dilemmas like I used to scream for answers over. Plenty’s happening, but I roll with it more. Maybe I can thank the concussion for that. Slowed things down. Or maybe it’s the cat that came to live with me.
Was a time when I’d ask questions of Heruka. I kept an endless list. So many things I wanted to understand. I trusted my Buddha guide had all the answers, and I could take ’em to the bank.
Slowness and boredom have given me time to reflect.
I think it was in 2012. Maybe 2011. Still carried a pendulum bracelet everywhere with me. I’d reached the point where I no longer thought twice. Would pull it out of my pocket, drape the chain over a fingertip, and plumb deep into my confusion. Heruka would spell out answers for me, as I read the swings of the chained crystal.
That evening I sat in a coffee shop in Decatur, waiting on a friend. Public place. Asking for help. Had been a long week at work. As usual, I was frustrated.
Okay, Heruka. Please tell me – really. You’ve given me all kinds of explanations for two years now. But when will you answer this one: “Why are we here?”
I set down the pendulum and looked around. Was anyone watching me? Nah. My hands shook a little. Caught a whiff of roasted beans grinding as a download swirled into my senses. Sat up straight on the barstool.
So obvious. Embarrassed I hadn’t figured it out on my own.
I scanned the café again, this time to gauge how bored the patrons looked. As a whole. As a citizenship. As a species.
Dammit. This sucks. I scrambled in my bag for my notebook, to make a few quick notes before my friend arrived. Nirvana is boring?
“No, that’s you.”
“No. You’re bored. What better way to keep you busy, than to send you back here?”
The lined composition paper stared back at me. I clenched my jaw.
“You were bored out of your mind. So bored you decided to come back here.”
That’s some deep, sticky mud.
Pretty preposterous to talk about nirvana. With the tone of a casual observer. But that’s me: irreverent. Confident to the point of certainty. Yet aching with awareness that I don’t know shit.
Oh, I knew what Heruka meant. Could feel it in my bones. The restlessness that tugs at me, propels me back to this world. Over and over again, no matter how much I curse and swear that I’ll never come back.
And for eight years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make up for it.
I’ve been watching people and myself.
Yes, we’re bored.
We value activity above all else. Except maybe wealth. Because wealth affords us the luxury of choosing our activities.
Even in meditation, it’s hard to believe that the ultimate goal is to empty the mind. However, if something new, cool and mysterious might pop up, then it’s worth a shot. Maybe I’ll remember something from a previous lifetime. I sit in anticipation.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve tried to just sit in the bar and not open the screen on my phone. Just be. Watch. Listen.
All these things I do – drink, tell stories, watch movies, play video games, read books, create objects and sounds and images… embroil myself in a consuming profession…
Is it all out of boredom?
Yesterday I shared my insight with my friend Maureen, while I scorched blueberry pancakes. The sixth through twelfth ones turned out alright, so we sat to eat.
“Everything we do is out of boredom. Why else would we be here? I know I am. I think we’re always trying to leave this place. Because we’re bored.” I reached for the syrup.
She cocked her head at me. I knew that arch in her eyebrows. Then she smiled. “Well, you’ve always been a high-stim gal.”
“What, me?” Don’t you start diagnosing me…
Her laugh was light and cheerful, and the pancakes fluffy and blue-swirled, so I let it go.
That afternoon, as I rearranged books on shelves, my son wondered if maybe I have too many hobbies. Maybe I’ve wasted too much money on wire and beads and mandolins and books and watercolor paper and ink and weaving yarn.
“Doesn’t your Dad have hobbies?”
Thoughtful pause. “He watches TV.”
“Oh, I can’t imagine how bored I’d get.”
I didn’t pick up on the theme appearing. Sometimes I miss it when Heruka’s at work. Not paying attention. Too busy being busy.
It never occurred to me that boredom was a problem. But this agitates me. Why can’t I sit and accept and take it all in? Really not fair to keep blaming it on the concussion.
This morning I woke up from a forgotten dream. Something gnawed at my memory. I couldn’t get moving. Worth “checking in” with Heruka about. It had been so long since I’d relied on him that way, wasn’t even sure where a pendulum might be stashed. So I just sat.
My discontent – does this have to do with a time when I was a teacher? I remembered swearing never to go back to a monastery. That was probably not a smart karmic move. I was fed up, impatient, sick of the…routine. And now I can’t keep a sangha because I chose to leave there? Really?
“Because you were an asshole. That’s why you’re here. You’re never just content.”
I sat on the edge of the bed facing my shrine. Hadn’t done practice in months. And I’m about to start an argument with him. Was this an affront to the Heruka, to doubt that I could have made a mistake?
I don’t like this. It hurts.
“Of course. That’s karma, duh.”
Later in the day my friend Maureen emailed me about a podcast describing a breathing technique for resetting the brain out of boredom. Breathe in for 8 and out for 3.
I’ll probably never listen to it.
I’ve tried it once, since the email.
It was boring.