Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meditations Upon Boredom

I remember Augie talking about meditation before, and how meditation was ultimately the contemplation of boredom. The mind, denied of its usual content for rumination, inevitably grows bored and restless. And then the koan becomes: "Why am I bored? What am I missing in the present moment, that makes me wish I was anywhere but here, anywhere but now?"

I'm not sure I really got that until I hung out with my kids.

Now, I'm sure it's one of the most taboo things in the world to say nowadays, though I'm sure every parent feels it at some time, and perhaps quite often: it can get boring playing with the kids. We love our kids, of course, which is the only thing that could motivate us to continue . . . and it can spark all kinds of enthusiasm in us to see the delight in their eyes at simple things. But that magic isn't always there . . . and sometimes we are left standing in the woods while the boys dig holes and fill them in and squabble over the shovel, and thinking, "Jesus, this is dull."

What makes this boredom more interesting than most is that you can't really afford to stop paying attention: if you're mind wanders, pretty soon something or somebody is broken, hurt, upset, ruined, etc. And so you get to watch the boredom grow, bloom . . . oddly enough, I sometimes feel closer to the present moment in those times than in any other. It's not a sense of transcendant joy, or tingly supersensitivity to the beauty of the world. It's just . . . this. It's the heart of the mid-life crisis, and (it turns out) the heart of life itself. "This is it," you say to yourself. "Just this."


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