Bored? Boring? Boredom.

I’m not bored.  I think that’s true. And I hope I’m not boring.

I tell myself that I just have large periods of unstructured time.  I’ve got things to do; projects, chores, activities.

Mary Mann’s article in Sunday’s The New York Times caught my eye because of the catchy headline: “The Other Side of Boredom.”  She writes about some of the interesting arguments about the power of “doing nothing” so your creative mind can chart a new path.

Yet, astoundingly, others actively seek boredom out. “You have to sit around so much doing nothing,” Gertrude Stein wrote on developing creative genius. F. Scott Fitzgerald thought boredom was necessary for writing: “You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges.”

Yet there are people who would rather have electric shock than be bored.

Doing nothing is often boring, and boredom is often crazy-making. In a 2014 study, published in the journal Science, researchers reported that many people preferred self-administering electric shocks to doing nothing.

Really?  Can anyone be that bored?  Clearly, I’m not at the electric shock stage.  However, I haven’t reached the F. Scott Fitzgerald stage either.

The problem with articles about boredom, or even the topic itself, is the context.  Being unemployed or underemployed is a very different kind of boredom than those who are laid-up by illness.  Or by those who have shifted gears and are no longer working full-time [retirement] might face other kinds of boredom.

Mann wrote this as she talks about her own experiences:

Sometimes boredom serves as empty ground on which to build new ideas, while other times it acts as a guide to our true desires. You have to wait and see; above all, boredom is the master of the long con.

That’s probably the best advice: give yourself time to figure out what’s next.  The transition stage of retirement is scary, as we don’t know what’s on the other side.

Posted in Bordeom, Retirement

Retirement Rambles

I’ve started this journal [my ramblings] as I enter my ‘third age.’  At age 65, I retired from full-time work at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies as its director of business development and international projects. [Those curious about my full biography can go here.]

The implications of retirement — emotional, physical, financial — are interesting and, I fully admit, challenging. While everyone has their own retirement narrative, sharing what I’m learning might be helpful to others who have retired or might be entering that ‘third age.’

Altruism is nice, but I think this journal is more selfish.  It’s an attempt to give me something structured to capture the random thoughts about this interesting transition in my life.

Friends and family [and sometimes even strangers] seem to have the same reaction when I tell them I’m newly retired.  It comes in the form of a question:  “How do you like it.” It is the kind of question that a cook might ask of a dinner guest or something you might ask after seeing a movie.

I usually say something nice or polite.  Make a joke about how that I’ve been retired for less than 30 or 60 or 90 days and I don’t really know.  [It’s 95 days as I write this.] That’s the problem, I really don’t know how I feel about retirement.  It’s complicated.

There are parts about not working that I love. Parts of my day that are quiet, perhaps even boring. [Boring is a topic for a further post.] Parts of my current life are confusing. Parts of the future are full of wonder. Like I said, its complicated.

Maybe, just maybe, writing about it might bring some clarity.  It might provide a way to find some new paths or answers.  Perhaps this blog will just be enjoyable and something that I’m doing for my own pleasure.

We’ll see.

Posted in Retirement