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.