Just read an article from the New York Times by Oliver Sacks called “The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.).” And he means it. Great piece. At 80, Sacks feels an “enlargement of mental life and perspective.” Of course he has the usual regrets, but for the most part he feels as alive and productive as he did in his twenties. I have that feeling, too, as I move into the last half of my seventh decade. But like Sacks, I find it shocking to note my chronological age. How on earth did that happen?
In spite of the fact of getting older, though, something is expanding in me. I feel easier, more grounded, and able to encompass more. And there’s an urgency, too, but different from the urgency of my thirties: it’s a fullness that urges me not to waste any time. And that doesn’t mean not to dawdle; it means not to settle for less than what is acceptable, appropriate, and good for me, moment by moment. In all things and in all arenas.
It’s good that this article comes right on the heels of a day in which I felt a period of boredom. It was a beautiful Florida day, and quite leisurely for my life; I actually accomplished all the things I had on my “to do” list for the day (a rarity in and of itself). And by 4 p.m. or so, I found myself standing in the middle of the living room wondering, OK, now what do I do? I had no plans to go out. And I certainly have lots of books to read. I had walked the dog several times. Things were done. But there was this restlessness in me. Something scratchy and anxious. I wasn’t quite sure what activity to turn to: draw, read, write, catch up on webcasts, call a friend, take another meditation.
Most of the time, I’m driven by a powerful feeling that I’m supposed to be “doing” something, something that will contribute to the larger project. The larger project being “something creative.” But by late afternoon of this day, as I was walking down the stairs, I said aloud to myself, I think you’re bored. And I laughed. It’s been a long time since I felt bored. In fact, I can’t even remember feeling bored, though I’m sure I did as a kid. It’s a feeling I have worked hard all my life not to feel. I want to feel restful and open, but I don’t want to feel boredom, although I guess there is nothing wrong with it. Is there?
As I get older, I want to balance the feeling of urgency that has characterized most of my life, the almost frantic desire to use every bit of time wisely and purposefully, with a sense of ease and restfulness, a knowing that there is no need to rush, to be alarmed. My mantra: all is well and all will be well.
I didn’t quite find that balance on this day of boredom, and it’s just good to note it. This post is my public confession—and acceptance–of the feeling. Being bored is not a bad thing; it’s just a thing. It’s an experience that human beings have and one worth paying attention to. Right? The purpose of life is to experience your experiences. Whatever they may be!
Still, it’s funny to note that for YEARS I’ve been striving for white space in my life, and then I had a day with plenty of it. And it bored me? What a funny joke on me.