My place. Monday, 4.10pm
What is this feeling?
Why am I wheeling myself over to the kitchen to make another banana sandwich when I’ve already eaten eight, and I’m definitely not hungry? (I’m in my office chair; it’s easier than using crutches around my shack.)
Why do I have the radio on, filling my brain with waffle?
What is wrong with me?
Why have I spent half a day watching Vikings?
What is this feeling? It was there when I woke, it was there when I made the first banana sandwich, and still persists despite the virtual Valium of serial series watching.
What is this feeling?
The feeling is boredom. I don’t want to admit it because boredom is what boring people do. It’s true. I’m so boring today, I make Turnbull seem exciting.
Bored, I turned on the radio to hear him announce something of absolutely no significance to planetary reality. I turned it off. And then, bored, back on.
If you were to visit me today, you’d find me in my sarong, in my office chair, in my shack under the cliffs, staring out the door, past the step that snapped my achilles tendon, over the empty deck where once I used to play, past the golden cane, and beyond to the hills.
You’d hear Turnbull talking about Aussie jobs for Australians in a voice that has its sincerity cached off-shore in the Cayman Islands.
I’d have a banana sandwich in my hand, bread crumbs spilled down the front of my expanding Superman t-shirt, some pooled in the lap of my sarong, and some sprinkled on the five grubby toes sticking out from the fibreglass cast on my leg.
You’d say, ‘Hi, how are you?’
I’d say, ‘Yeah, good…’
I’d offer coffee, and then explain I have run out of coffee, but you could have tea, as long as you like it black, because I have run out of milk, except that I have some almond milk, which I bought for a visiting vegan, which unfortunately is out of date by about a year, because she never showed up.
You’d glance down towards your car, calculating how long before you could politely leave.
‘Would you like a banana sandwich,’ I’d say.
You’d say no, and I’d be glad, realising I have run out of butter.
We’d have awkward silences because my ability to make small talk has packed its bag and got the hell out of here. Unlike me, it had that option. But I’d try…
We’d talk about Vikings, and I’d want to scream: ‘Why are we immersing ourselves in a fictional world just when the real world needs us? Are we rats abandoning the sinking Earth, fleeing along internet cables to a world which promises immortality? Are we that scared of death, which, like climate change, is a reality?’
But I wouldn’t scream that of course; I’d say nothing much, and in about five minutes, you’d feel that’s enough, and leave.
And I’d be glad you’ve left, even though I like you.
I want to be left with my boredom. Before my accident, I had created a whole life to keep boredom at bay. I desperately avoided boredom, but I can’t escape it now – there aren’t enough bananas or Viking episodes to do that. Malcolm certainly can’t help.
Boredom sucks, sure, but, you know, it has its moments. Boredom is withdrawal from the distraction addiction. Sooner or later, if you stay with it, something happens.
Sometimes, between screen and sandwich, with the sun shining through the golden cane, boredom takes me to solitude.
In solitude, I feel life.
In solitude, I am a Viking, unafraid of death, unafraid to live.
But that’s just sometimes…