I was recently reminded by Tumblr that I had left a previous blog abandoned for four years now. I’m more than happy to retire that blog, but there are some posts that bring me memories of the years past that I do want to preserve here. This is one of them, written on April 10, 2012.
Boredom exists only when the mind starts coming closer and closer to enlightenment. Boredom is just the polar opposite of enlightenment. Animals cannot become enlightened, hence they cannot become bored either.
A couple of years ago, I was constantly bored with my life. To fill the void inside of me, I signed myself up for driving lessons and tap dance classes, and I announced to myself that I’d try anything once as long as it didn’t kill me. I even took up Hindi classes and went out with people I didn’t usually hang out with. I was scared of being bored, I felt I was wasting my life away.
But that void in me was insatiable. It kept wanting more. So the more I stuffed things into it, the hollower I felt. I remember once after making a pinhole camera for three hours and then stepping back to admire my creation, I broke down in tears. If a black hole could form in a human body, it must feel the way I felt at that very moment: a hollowness that keeps tearing and ripping at your body as it sucks your body inwards, until it collapses into itself.
If only I had known what Osho had to say about boredom. He believed that boredom arises from an understanding of the futility of the life that we know, the endless cycle of desire and want, action and reaction. I can see what he means. As soon as you realise that you are not experiencing true happiness, but just moving from one gratification to the next gratification, it’s hard not to feel jaded and tired about chasing after that next emotional high. But did I feel like I was closer to enlightenment? Hardly. In fact, I felt numb and powerless. It was that powerlessness that drove me to tears and made me feel everything about me was worthless.
And then, today, I read this:
Cancer has shocked and terrorized me into a wakefulness that I didn’t know existed. Now every decision, every moment feels both meaningful and fleeting.
– Suleika Jaouad, Life, Interrupted: Countdown to Day Zero
It always takes that powerlessness to make us take a good, hard look at our lives. What I had gone through is hardly anything compared to what Suleika Jaouad is going through (she’s in her twenties, she’s hardly bored, but she fears she’s running out of time), but it nevertheless made me realise that, in the grand scheme of things, many of my decisions are but a drop in the ocean. My opinions on what constitute meaningful pursuits have been reset. That’s not to say I’m going to have a “whatever” or “I don’t care” attitude towards life. Rather, I need to be more detached, and be able to enjoy the present and stop dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future.
Have you ever been unhappy here and now? Right this moment–is there any possibility of being unhappy right now? You can think about yesterday and you can become unhappy. You can think about tomorrow and you can become unhappy. But right this very moment–this throbbing, beating, real moment–can you be unhappy right now? Without any past, without any future?
I still think of the past, but I no longer want to hang on to it and show it off like my war wound. That has been the cause of my unhappiness for all these years. I’m ready to stop brandishing my sorrow as proof that I’m not completely void inside.
So, goodbye, boredom. Next stop, bliss.