Literally bored to death

The new age bard

Sick of erudite discourse? Here are a few phrases you may remember from simpler times.

  1. Are we theeeeeere yet?
  2. Do I haaaaave to go to bed/brush my teeth/obey your authority?

And, the real kicker:

  1. I’m booooooored!

I remember distinctly the icy chill of this strange and fickle boredom. You, at a tender age, may have more than once awoken — by yourself! — at the break of dawn. After some cold cereal and some pleas for cartoons, you might have gone outside and poked around in the dirt for awhile or tortured small invertebrates or created some compelling abstract art with some pastel chalk on the driveway. But at some point, the existential reality of the endless summer day in front of you would inevitably cause you to moan, “I’m boooooored!”

Even in the thick of one of these catastrophic bouts of whining, I can remember believing wholeheartedly that there would come a time when I would outgrow once and for all this tragic state of affairs. I could imagine myself, at the ripe old age of 16, snagging some car keys off the kitchen counter and zooming off into a life brimming with peril and privilege. My decade-old heart spilled over with hope for this future.

But having long since passed this milestone, it seems that simply having the keys to the kingdom is an ineffective defense against the looming menace of ennui. What’s more, even a cycle of endless productivity is not enough to tame the beast. Whether you join the workforce as an overworked and underpaid civil servant or devote your neurobiology to the pursuit of higher education, it is still alarmingly easy to slip into the omnipresent rabbit hole of tedium.

I remember well a time in early September when, thrown into an academic panic, my every Math 1A assignment seemed an explosive land mine to carefully dismantle; amazingly, we have reached the point in the semester where I trod about the field carelessly. I am simply unimpressed.

I can admit that right about that time of year when midterms are comfortably receding in the rearview, it becomes a bit difficult to remain engaged. Daily hygiene upkeep, regular work attendance and generally fruitful behavior suddenly seem unbearably monotonous, and you may catch yourself more than once wondering what it would be like to simply drop the mic and abandon it all.

But dear readers: I am here to scare you straight.

We begin in an unusual manner. There was once a beautiful cow named Io who, actually, had not always been a cow. She was, in fact, one of Zeus’ many romantic conquests, transformed into a heifer by his hand to protect her from the wrath of his jealous wife, Hera. Hera, however, was so charmed by a happenstance encounter with the lovely little cow that she demanded Zeus give it to her and hired Argus, the 100-eyed watchman, as her guard.

Argus was the perfect observer; with more than a few eyes to spare, at least 50 were always on the prize. Zeus, watching poor Io under diligent surveillance that would put the Russian government to shame, feared Hera too greatly to intervene. He decided to deploy the crafty Hermes to foil her instead.

So, one day, the cheerful Hermes, his sleeve full of dastardly intentions, strode up to Argus, who sat dreadfully bored at his post of unrest. When the small talk had run out, Hermes began to tell a story. This story, much like a Math 1A lecture, had “no beginning, no middle and no end.” It droned on and on and on, and despite Argus’ faithful sleeplessness, he started slipping. Those steadfastly open eyes drooped and shut fast. Hermes sealed them with a tap of his wand, and that was that. Argus had been bored to death.

This, my friends, is the fate of the uninterested. And do we desire to go down the same path? Argus, so easily demolished by Hermes’ monotone drone, is perhaps not the best example.

Although it is not so difficult to understand where his enthusiasm waned, his duty was his duty. Here we are, alive and kicking, our minds also staggering with the tasks we must complete. But ladies and gentlemen, amid all the moaning, groaning and bed-laying, I regret to inform you: Life is happening. We may as well try our hardest to show up and be excited about it. For as dulling as the repetition of the everyday can become, this is still all you get.

We, dear readers, must persevere in our valiant effort to keep those eyes open — or else we may find ourselves awakening some distant future morning, wondering where it all went. That dreamy childhood self of yours, too, would urge you to get out of bed, put some pants on and show up to watch that little cow eat grass like none of your 100 eyes would damn well rather be anywhere else.

And if you’re just dying to feel that exhilarating rush of panic again — fear not. There are always finals.

Nina Djukic writes the Friday column on the relevance of stories in life today. You can contact her at [email protected].