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  • Jan Flynn

I Want to Die of Boredom

Wait — allow me to explain

Image by banksadam from Pixabay

Long enough ago that there’s no point in trying to recall the details, I was watching a PBS British drama set between the wars. In one scene, a gentleman, still dapper in late age, settles into a garden chaise lounge and accepts a cup of tea but declines an offer to attend a picnic.

“Thank you, no,” he drawls in his Eton accent. “I’ll stay here and take in this gloriously boring afternoon.” The other characters leave him to it. He tilts his hat over his eyes and lies back, a contented smile on his face.

When the others return from their picnic they find him still in his chaise, still with a contented smile on his face, but quite dead.

That’s the way to go, if you ask me.

I’ve reached the age where death is no longer a theoretical concept

It’s happened to too many people I’ve known and cared about. It’s happened right in front of me.

And as with many people who’ve stuck around as long as I have, I’ve had a few close brushes with it myself.

My grasp of the truism “we all gotta go sometime” is visceral. It’s like a one-way trip I know have to take, except I can’t pack for it and I don’t know where I’m going or when. All I know is that the journey is non-negotiable.

I’ve done what I can about that in practical terms. Will, trust, estate plan, and wishes communicated to my adult children (who don’t really want to hear them, but oh well). I’ve filled out my Advance Care Directive and update it periodically.

But I’m too old and wise to think that when my sometime comes I’ll have full control over its manner and method.

Still, I don’t see how it could hurt to state my preference to the Universe.

Please, Universe, may I die of boredom

I know that sounds strange and perhaps negative. Even nihilistic. But here’s my thought process:

  1. The Universe is so very big and so very mysterious, and so full of things we’ve barely begun to discover, let alone explain to ourselves, that it’s literally an ever-expanding realm of potential discovery.

  2. Within it lies our own wee world, spinning in space, containing everything we touch and taste and breathe and know and hate and love. It houses more creatures and plants and environments and wonders than any one of us can ever see in one lifetime.

  3. Our world is also, as far as we know, the only place in the Universe where people live. Humans, I mean; earthlings. Humans who may be kind and generous or petty and mean, trustworthy or devious, delightful or destructive, and sometimes all of those things at different times.

  4. These humans, they get up to all kinds of things. They plan, they plot, they play. They fall in love, erupt in anger, lie, cheat, and sacrifice themselves for their families or an idea, like honor or freedom. Properly regarded, none of them are boring. And the things they make! Muffins and monuments, symphonies and socks, ravioli and rocket ships. Above all, they make stories.

  5. So all I have to do, at any moment of my life, is to pay the slightest attention and I am in the presence of wonder.

  6. Therefore, it’s impossible to be bored, except in two situations. One is that I’m feeling too lazy or distracted to pay attention. Like all human feelings, those are temporary states and will pass.

  7. The other is that something has rendered me incapable of paying attention. It’s hard to imagine, but when the day comes that due to illness, disability, decline, or simply one loss too many, I lose interest in this world, then it’s time to leave.

And when that happens, if you, Universe, could throw in a garden chaise lounge in a sunny spot on a gloriously boring afternoon, that would be great.

Even if I don’t get quite all those perks, I will be content to die of boredom and to leave all the mess and miracles of this world behind.

I don’t know what comes next, but I suspect it will be fascinating.

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