It’s been over a month since I last posted, which is why I got itchy feet from inactivity today, forcing me back to the keyboard to report on the happenings of the weeks past. Restlessness has been my theme of the week, so I’m putting these thoughts into words, hopefully to paint a clearer picture of what I’m actually going through as a self diagnoses. I’ve been living in Vancouver for almost two months, not long enough to be settled, even by my standards. I’m living in a great house with awesome housemates, I’ve reconnected with old friends, I’ve found a job, and summer’s on the doorstep; but already my mind is thinking beyond.
On my way back from the quaint little suburban French café a few blocks from my place, which is a local hang out for new mums in the neighbourhood and where I spend half an hour of my hard earned wages on decent coffee; I thought about what has been stirring these fidgety feelings of flight. I received an email last week from a friend I made at the hostel I volunteered at in Güemes, with the subject ‘Astronauta’. What I could translate from the rest of his message was that the world is running small for me; that he believed I wished to be an astronaut and travel beyond, more far, more high, with more curiosity. Perhaps he knows me better than I thought, though for someone who doesn’t speak a word of English, and with my rusty-at-best Spanish, it’s incredible how much I was able to communicate through body language and behaviour.
It got me thinking that even though we’re in one place, part of us is always somewhere else. I’m not sure how much of me is spread around, but there’s certainly part of my soul in Spain, a large chunk back in Australia with my family and friends who I miss more than ever, a portion with my family in Holland and my friends in Dubai, and an eternal piece left in the USA on the trail. And then there’s the physical me in Vancouver. Perhaps that’s why my mind wanders so frequently to other places?
Many would say I’m living the dream, and I wouldn’t disagree. I’m working a casual summer job so I can focus time on other projects, but I seriously underestimated how demanding a retail job at an REI equivalent would be, selling outdoor gear to likeminded adventure enthusiasts. Aside from the hissy fits from unsatisfied customers who have thrown shoes at me or treated me as a sub-standard human being, most people who are shopping for their next international jaunt or escape into the wilderness are happy-go-lucky individuals, who love the fact I know even a marginal amount about the gear they’re purchasing.
A job with little responsibility, minimal management, where I can live my inner teenager by painting my nails blue and showing up with un-brushed hair from under my bike helmet seemed like a no brainer; but in reality, I’m having to dig deep to find ways to cope with the dull repetition as the hours of each day creep ever more slowly by. On weekends it’s slammed, and I don’t have a chance to wallow in my own self-pity between juggling boxes of shoes, filling packs with weighted stuffing and discussing the R-value of sleeping pads. But during the lull of customers, when I’m straightening shoes on display and zipping up jackets that are sliding from their hangers, this is when my mind goes into mayhem.
I found one of my colleagues hiding behind the display of sleeping bags yesterday, so I know I’m not alone in my struggles with monotony. And when I see my workmates passed out on the sofas in the lunch room, I realise I’m not the only one battling the physical drain of scaling shelves in the back stock to retrieve the last size 7 pair of sandals hiding beneath 50 other boxes. Truth is unlike me, they’re probably suffering from their social debauchery the night before, when I’m simply tired from the one hundred ‘can I help you’s’ I’ve spoken that day.
I consulted my eternal source of wisdom Wikipedia yesterday regarding my curiosity for the state of boredom. I learned among other things that:
Boredom has been defined by Cynthia D. Fisher in terms of its main central psychological processes: “an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.”
In positive psychology, boredom is described as a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has more than enough skill.
Perhaps I’m suffering from both these causes, but it’s only me who has the power to alter my emotional state. I figure if something is difficult, it’s worth doing; and perhaps what seemed to be an easy task at first, may well present one of the largest challenges for a restless person like me. To conquer boredom, tedium, restlessness or whatever seems to be ailing me, my first task is to accept the challenge, as large or small as it may be. I think instead of cruising the sidelines at work, subbing in for bursts of activity like I sometimes do, I need to immerse myself completely. And failing that, falling back on my inner crazy seems to be helping too, like wearing outrageously patterned leggings to work that double as pyjama pants to see just how far I can push the open dress code.
In regards to staying in the one place, perhaps that simply needs to be treated as a challenge too. I go from thinking about how I’d manage to enter the extortionate real estate market here, to dreaming about packing my bags and getting on the next plane. But I set my goal to stay until September, and vowed not to make any rash decisions too prematurely before that time comes.
So that’s my therapy session for today, I’ll hand it over to the other brains reading for their input.
24 thoughts on “Anything difficult is worth doing”
Last night I came across pictures of you visiting my schools, speaking to my students, and reminisced of that great visit with you, Leigh & Min……next morning…POP, you show up in my email!!! And at the top of your entertainment game. You are a global ground-pounder for sure, and an entertaining writer extraordinaire….many nagged you about that book which lies dormant inside you after the PCT. Is it screaming to be set free??
Always a smile when thinking of you. Cheers!!
Judi it’s so great to hear from you! I have that beautiful painting from the 7th graders at Anaverde Hills displayed in my room which says ‘Thank you for inspiring us to grow’. It inspires ME everyday!! Speaking to those kids was one of the most rewarding gifts the trail provided me with, and I’ve been thinking a lot about doing more. Please say hi to all the kids I had the fortune to meet and I look forward to being in touch again soon!!
Your two wiki’s on boredom are good, but I think only partially define “boredom” and what you are feeling. “boredomphobia” may be closer. Sounds like a bit of terror wrapped into the thought maybe this is all there is to look forward to when staying in one spot. Again my thought, but I think you need challenge, purpose, a goal or goals. Maybe, I’m just projecting myself, but I think I see that in you and always saw it in your PCT drive. small goals leading to larger ones leading to…maybe figuring out what in hell goal might someday be worthy to put a life into. Think maybe I’ve still not found that one.
Your feelings of flight, to get moving, might be avoidance of facing such a prospect. This job now is temporary (I guessed from your clues earlier REI), and your mind is not fully engaged. I think boredom is a transitional mental state that, if used, can be a great driver for resolve. Think of water building behind some blockage. If left unchanneled eventually it just explodes in some chaotic destructive fashion, but if channeled along a path can create the Grand Canyon.
You will not explode, you will find your path. This point, now, is an interlude…leading to the next act in your symphony. don’t fear the boredom….it is painful, but you laugh at pain, I’ve seen it. Use it! Remember Mind, body, trail…move forward when the three elements are combined.
Don’t know if I’ve said a coherent thing, just woke up…need my coffee. I envy you. where you are now in this mental flux…so many choices leading down so many future paths. Boredom…bah! BTW love the leggings!!
Ah Gromit your words are like poetry… and before your morning coffee that’s impressive! I always get better advice than I give, and I always know someone will have a pearl of wisdom that spells it all out for me. I think you’re spot on in your comment, and will remember to read those words again when I find the water channeling in the wrong direction.
Good to here your back in the PNW, even if it’s Canada. 🙂 Sound like you need to get out and do some hiking! That always helps me with the Ho Hums.
You’re absolutely right Wolf! I’ve been doing a few little jaunts here and there but my trail feet are itchier than ever! It’s so tempting to just hop over the border when it’s so close!!
Ah, such a soul who can say it so well….that’s you, sweetie….as I have gone through my long life, I have always felt that there had to be much more to life than I know…and I have to have new challenges or I get stagnant…or, at least that’s the way I feel…so, all this to say, I HEAR you and SEE you….You have set a goal of September…and by then, I would wager that you will KNOW which direction to go…I surmise that it might be some kind of big adventure…
While writing this, I suddenly remembered something that might be something like your angst…I learned to surf at age 29….and lived quite near the ocean, but far away enough to keep to feel my soul and spirit being pulled to the ocean….and when i got there, I would feel so incredibly excited and would sit on my surfboard and stare out to sea for that familiar hump of a wave coming nearer and nearer…then it was coming and I would paddle like mad and catch it…and I knew I was where I needed to be…
I don’t like telling someone what to do…so all I can do is to let you know….I’m WITH you….Namaste….Barbie here!!!
Barbie! I’ve been thinking about you these last few months, wondering if you were still out there somewhere, with your incredible insight and life experience. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, and it’s almost criminal to be an Australian and admit that I’ve never even tried the sport! Your words have got me thinking on a very positive tangent, as always. Thank you so much for sharing!!
Hi Rozanne, again….thanks for the very nice replay….know this, I think about you quite often, also….in fact, I asked Leigh Swansborough about you a week ago….she said you were in Canada…and I was really happy to see your latest blog….AND, don’t go surfing without someone to help teach you….big surf in Australia….too big for a newtimer….smiling….But, I bet there are places that are great to learn to surf….that would be a great and fun challenge…..Thanks, Sweetheart….be hearin’ from you soon, I trust….You can email me anytime you wish….love to you….
Well if you ever want a hiking buddy let me know, I’m only about 2.5 hours from you. You should check out the BC Parks web page, there are some great trails in your area and across the ferry on the Island.
It would be great to see you again.
You too Wolf, hope to cross paths soon!
The school of life says . . . dissatisfaction is an example of dependent arising. I think.
Sounds very philosophical – but I’m not sure I really understand it. I may need to re-enrol in the school of life! 🙂
Damn you think a lot. Glad to be a man. Shit….
Oh Pac Man you make me smile!
Thank you for everything. And most importantly just being you.
Will do, Muk Muk!! Those kids are all graduating next Wednesday and leaving my clutches!!!!!! Some of the kids in Leona Valley have hit portions of the trail near their home. Your influence lives on!! THANK YOU!
Thank YOU!!! 🙂
Hmmm. At first glance it seems your life is becoming just like the norm for most folks. I suspect that maybe an illusion as you settle into progress towards your next goal – whatever that might be.
Even with the every so- called mundane day in Vancouver you have a gift for a deeper and more insightful take on it all which is a joy to read. Better to know you have shoes tossed at you in a store than die a death wondering if a mountain lion or premature snow storm is about to take you out.
Couldn’t agree more! 😉
Miss Muk Muk, you are not alone and indeed many other have wrestled with their own existentialism. This might help: http://www.theonion.com/article/search-for-self-called-off-after-38-years-1794
Speth should really take up hiking!!