Notes

on boredom and hope

This time last year I was thinking about summer’s laziness, as I was lucky to have a lot of it then — now I am patching together my empty time in shorter sections. My friend Elka sent me a link about the importance of boredom, which references Adam Phillips’s essay “On Being Bored,” and it made me wistful for a freer schedule. I keep wishing I had “more time to think.” But it’s not necessarily any precise amount of idle time, but what the longer stretches of it tend to enable, as in the quote from Phillips’s essay where he describes boredom as a “precarious process” of “both waiting for something and looking for something, in which hope is being secretly negotiated.”

Some nights it’s enough to sit outside as the dusk deepens, watching the fireflies dart and blink and a gang of raccoons make their way down the fence thoroughfares that divide the backyards, off to whatever mischief they have planned for the evening. During the day I’ve witnessed for the first time the actual moment when sycamore bark falls off the tree, clattering down to the sidewalk as I pass by. It’s surprising that I never noticed this before, but now I'm tuned in to sycamore branches with their shed layers still dangling, as well as all the crumpled pieces underfoot and how they represent the moments we’ve missed.

That blank exuberance — “who can wait for nothing?”