Sunday, February 15, 2015

Life's too short for boring tasks

Sometimes a task looms so boring in my mind that I simply can't bring myself to do it.

This often stresses me out, because I feel like it's something I have to do and I can't get it done, and I guess deep down I fear something bad is going to happen as a result, like one of those dreams where something's trying to get me and I can't move or open my eyes.

But guess what, Bill? That's not happening.

In fact, that's exactly the point. This task looms so boringly in front of you exactly because it is exactly NOT a lion trying to get you. In fact, it is just the opposite of anything that meaningful or important. That's what boring means.

So, what's a person to do when faced with/weighed down with/bullied by boredom?

The wise words of Rosie from Never Cry Wolf may have the answer for us. As their plane sputters in flight somewhere over Alaska, Rosie has this little discussion with Tyler about boredom:
"How do you beat boredom, Tyler?


Adventure, Tyler."
And Tyler's words at the end of the movie are even better:
"I wonder why it was that long ago I became a watcher of things. Always watching others do and feel things I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself. Always standing off at a distance, isolated, detached. I envy the wolves for how they experience the world. Always in such direct contact with their environment, travelling through their territories, alert and attuned to all the signs coming in through their senses, telling them where a rabbit recently passed or the sweet water lay, revealing a whole universe to them that we can never really know. But I sit behind glass lenses, filling up notebooks and triplicate forms…"

Tyler's answer: Engagement. Immersion in the grittiness of life. Mindfulness.

So this oppressive task that's stalking me--these "triplicate forms"? There are two things I can do with them:

1) Not do them. Go snowshoeing instead: Drink in the wind and blowing snow and feel the snow give way beneath your feet. Do something fun, challenging, real, even if it means the "forms" don't get done, because life's just too short. But triplicate forms are necessary if you want to live an enjoyable life in the future, aren't they? Hmmm... but what if the future is now? (And what if a future that requires forms means a future filled with forms? Hint: It does.)

2) Transform the boring task to make it a challenging, flow-generating experience, make the forms into a work of art, or a game. Make that boring essay into something that interests me.

So, what will it be, Bill? Will you be a watcher of things, a filler of forms, a slave to the boredom bogeyman, or will choose to actually live instead?

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