It is in my nature to analyze things. I consider myself a philosopher and great lover of the arts. Perhaps one results in the other. In my life’s work—whatever that may be defined as—I have become interested in the behavior of my fellow human beings. What makes us who we are? What makes us different? Why are we here on this earth? These are questions with no concrete answers—at least, not yet. Perhaps that is why they so interest me. Perhaps I only seek to find answers to the questions that appear to have no answers. Take boredom, for example. What is it really? What causes it? Why does it exist? This question has been on my mind for quite some time. I am often a victim of boredom and it is, to say the least, horrific. I sit in my room with thousands of things surrounding me, yet none of them interest me. Something I had been so engrossed in yesterday is drab and dull today. How does this happen? How can I prevent it? I brought these questions to my very best friend, Crazy Angie on afternoon at her house.
“The most common disease among human beings is boredom. It plagues us all at one point in our lives. Some are affected by it more than others, and by different things. Some of us suffer dreadfully from it. To be bored—to having nothing with which to occupy mind and body, is quite frustrating. Often, it’s painful. How can we function when bored? How do we end this dreadful boredom? Is there no cure for our suffering?”
“You’re having serious trouble, aren’t you?”
“Oh! You’ve no idea!” I said. “This is so tedious!”
“Life! Existence! Survival in this cruel world. Don’t you ever get bored, Crazy Angie?”
“Sure I do.”
“What do you do to end it?”
“Suffer through grueling hours until something exciting happens, like you calling me.”
“Does that cure you?”
“Sure, but getting you to call me is tough.”
“Why don’t you just call me?”
“Way too easy. I feel it’s my punishment as a human being to suffer through boredom.”
“No," she frowned. "I’m just not coordinated enough to pick up the phone and dial.” That was certainly true. Crazy Angie wasn’t very bright. In fact, she was quite mentally ill, resulting in her very fitting nickname. I often presented her with dilemmas such as these, not because I expected her to solve them, but more to get things off my chest. Of course, I knew she wasn’t mentally capable of solving them, but it helped me organize thoughts in my head. I thrive on creativity and have an intense need to express myself. Sometimes, it’s enough to write it down, other times, I need to dramatize it with an audience and long soliloquies. I feel sorry for my unbalanced friend. She is so dear to me. We went to high school together, which is where we met. Throughout our days together, conversations like this were habitual. I spent every afternoon with Crazy Angie. I went to her house after school and we discussed the world’s problems. Actually, I talked. She politely smiled and nodded, every now and then offering a supportive “oh really?” or an “I see!” while she practiced using the phone. (She couldn’t figure out that she had to lift the handset before dialing or nothing would happen.)
“Ok, so you’re having problem with boredom.” Crazy Angie began. “What exactly is boredom?”
“Ah! Good question. Before we can find the answer, it is necessary to completely understand the problem. I knew I brought you into these discussions for a reason.” I paused a moment to collect my thoughts. “Let’s look at what the word itself means—“
“Ooh! I think I know that one! Ok, boredom—a combination of the words board and um—“
“Um, Angie,” I tried to cut her off.
“No, no, board comes first, um is last.” I was puzzled by her remark, but let her finish.“Board is a flat wooden object of varying length and thickness. Um is a…a…a word that you say when you’re not sure what to say. That must make boredom a board that makes you say um.” Even she seemed confused by her statement.
“Not quite. Got a dictionary?” Pulling Webster from her desk drawer, I flipped through it. “Ok, it has bore. ‘To make a person feel tired or uninterested by being dull or tedious.’ This would make boredom the state of being tired or uninterested as a result of someone or something being dull or tedious.” I closed the book and inspected Crazy Angie’s confused face.
“You’re using too many big words. What’s tedious?”
“Uh, it’s like long and drawn out. You know, like Math class.”
“Oh, I get it.”
“We could list all of the things that bore us, but I think that would take too long. Plus there is no way of knowing everything that bores everyone. It’s just too much information.”
“Right,” Crazy Angie remarked. “I mean, with just me alone, I could come up with an endless of tasks that leave me bored to tears.
I frowned. "I think I understand boredom; I’m just stumped as to what might end it. Any thoughts?”
“Well, we could watch tv.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Nothing is coming to me today. Maybe we’d better call it a day. What time is it?”
“It’s about 2:00.”
“Ooh! Days of Our Lives is on!” We left the subject of boredom that afternoon for the over dramatized lives of soap opera characters. Still, I thought of this plague as I walked home that evening. There was much work to be done. I just had to figure out what exactly that work was. It would come to me eventually, that, I was sure of. It was just a matter of time.