At some point I would like to stop writing about adjusting to life in a world where a deadly virus is among us and get back to sharing my Picture Retirement story. This altered reality is becoming predictable and my attitude has slipped from highly optimistic to complacent with a tinge of dread. In other words, the Bruce Springstein lyrics fit.
Someone once told me that only boring people get bored. He said that clever people think of a way to avoid the condition. Obviously, he had never been isolated at home during a global pandemic. If he had, he might have expressed his thoughts with a little more compassion. I prefer how this Psychology Today article explains boredom.
“When people have low arousal and there is not much happening in the world, then they often feel relaxed. When they have high arousal, though, they have energy they would like to devote to something, but they cannot find anything engaging.”
I fall into the ‘high arousal’ category and just can’t find anything engaging to do with myself right now. Most of what I would like to do has been removed from the list of available choices. I have a lot of little things that create structure, but nothing that is highly motivating or piques an intense interest. I certainly don’t feel ‘relaxed’ most days. I am not anxious, or overly concerned, just somewhat removed as I go through the motions of life.
According to the article, there is another reason why we get bored that makes perfect sense in relation to our current circumstances.
“Boredom often occurs when you have little control over your situation. Waiting rooms, lectures, and airline gates are all places where you have little control over your situation. Normally, we react to unpleasant situations by changing the situation. If you don’t like a book you are reading, for example, you close it and do something else. Boredom happens when you are unable to change the situation.”
I am disciplined about maintaining a schedule and I find joy in every day, but as they say, ‘variety is the spice of life,’ and right now there just isn’t much variety. It is hard to ‘change the situation’ when so much of life is ‘off the table.’
Wake up, have breakfast, do chores, workout, have lunch, read, play games, relax, dinner prep, have dinner, clean up, watch TV, off to bed. That is the sum total of my existence. If it sounds bland it’s because it is.
I have given up trying to incorporate variety into our meals and have narrowed the selection to seven or eight easy to make favorites. Meal time has become more about sustenance and less about dining.
Daily exercise is the only aspect of my life where I continue to make a concerted effort to incorporate variety. If this lasts much longer, even that may fall victim to being mildly tolerable.
It isn’t just me. Malcolm woke up very lethargic a few days ago. When I asked why, he replied, “I’m funked.” I couldn’t suppress a laugh, considering I had never thought of that word as a verb, but it is perfect to describe this feeling of woefulness. Living in a perpetual funk is not acceptable, so what next? How do we get ‘unfunked’?
Starting now, we will get back to basics and repeat how we began this journey – with optimism and enthusiasm. We accept the fact that ‘temporary’ might just mean ‘a very long time’, and restructure our lives accordingly. It’s time to face reality.
How about you guys? Has your original optimism and enthusiasm waned? Are you still coming up with ways to keep daily life interesting. Is accepting life as it is and being patient the best we can do right now?
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