Permanence

I can be deeply passionate about ideas and people and experiences and the world in general. But the depth of those passions varies, both between and among the objects of my passion. My own inconsistencies trouble me. I wish I could control the strength of my thoughts about matters I feel are important. But if I had the ability to control those degrees of strength, I would be someone else; not me. So, the question comes to my mind: would I rather have that control, thereby becoming someone else, or do I wish to remain who I am? And that question raises another: at what point do changes in one’s personality cross the line between transformation and replacement? How different could I be from who I am and still be me? When does the transformation between the old me and the new me result in the elimination of the old version and the creation of the new one?

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I took a break from blogging for a few hours this morning, opting to direct my attention elsewhere for a while. Returning to my study, I looked out the windows to see half-naked trees whose brilliant orange leaves cover less of the dark brown bark than they did yesterday and several days before. The stunning beauty of a mixed hardwood forest in autumn is hard for Nature to match. Integrating evidence of human activities by way of windows and driveways and decorative figures with a sea of natural beauty, the view outside is breathtaking. We are fortunate to live where and when we do. Despite the horrors of humankind, humanity has enormous potential that, if ever fulfilled, can firmly announce the glory of life on Earth.

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There’s a fantasy in which I steal away one night, leaving everything and everyone behind, including myself. I take only what money is available to me. When I reach a distant destination, I present myself as someone utterly unlike the man I was. Instead of someone who spent the majority of his career chained to a desk, I might claim to have been an itinerant preacher who practiced an unknown religion. Or I might be extremely secretive about my past, causing people I meet to wonder about my history. Would that curiosity be based on interest or fear?

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“Boredom.” What, exactly, is it? A dictionary definition of the word asserts that boredom means a state of weariness related to dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc. While I will admit to being bored from time to time, I cannot quite understand how that state of mind comes to be. Children seem to be bored more often than their elders, which is contrary to my observation that children are far more likely than adults to be consumed by curiosity. Curiosity is the antithesis of boredom, though the Thesaurus I consult regularly does not label “curiosity” an antonym of boredom (yet “interest” is listed among the fewer than ten words that qualify as a word opposite in meaning to “boredom”). The meaning of the words, though, is not as consequential as the emotional state(s) to which the words apply.  How, I wonder, with all the gaps in our knowledge surrounding the world around us, can we effectively reject the attraction of literally billions of facts and circumstances around us? How can we claim insufficient opportunities exist to think about or engage in fascinating activities? Should not the chance to fill the gaps in our knowledge of our surroundings, or the world at large, readily overcome “boredom?”

Despite the logic that rejects the very concept of boredom, boredom is exceedingly common. There are days, for instance, when I feel dull and uninterested in even the most fascinating subjects. While one day I might be deeply intrigued to learn how the flavors of sweet foods often are more appealing than is the taste of a perfectly tasty vegetable, the next I have no interest in the subject whatsoever. Or my deep interest in learning about the religions and customs of distant cultures may dissolve in certain circumstances; instead of being replaced by something else equally as compelling, I might allow myself to wallow in pervasive disinterest.

I suspect the problem of boredom arises not from disinterest, though, but from a precipitous decline in mental energy. Perhaps boredom occurs in response to inadequate nutrition, which deprives one’s brains of the fuel for complex thought. Maybe it is not just a paucity of foods but, instead, an aberration in the body’s ability to process vitamins or minerals or other sources of either mental or physical energy (or both). There may be a thousand other contributors, any one of which could be a more important cause than another.

Suddenly, as I write about a topic that captures my imagination, my interest in it flags. There is much more to think about, to cogitate over, and to contemplate; but the fuel that powered that interest seems to have been used up. That may not be the reason for the decline in my curiosity, though. Instead, my interest may be re-directed by way of disconnected thoughts, whether related or not, that hold more power over me in the moment.

I wish I were not inclined to shift mental gears so quickly, leaving patterns of my thinking unfinished. Thoughts that anchored me to ideas and issues can vaporize without warning, leaving me inexplicably bored until the next fascinating mental image comes along.

It is not just ideas that lose their luster for me. The same can occur with people I think I might find interesting or attractive. The attraction of a person about whom I am extremely curious can disappear, leaving me thinking someone I considered intriguingly three-dimensional is, in reality, flat and one-dimensional. Fortunately, that does not often happen with people I know well; usually only with casual acquaintances and strangers. This situation, though, causes me to question the legitimacy of the idea about nutrition’s role in boredom.

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Too many words, sentences, and paragraphs. I long for the supremely simple existence reflected in brevity. One day, perhaps soon, I may revert to an old standby: haiku.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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1 Response to Permanence

  1. Meg Koziar says:

    Thanks.

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