Monday, June 4, 2018

It Was Interesting When I Said It

A group of actors sat in a circle and the nicest one among them (the sort of woman who probably receives domestic help from birds), admitted her biggest flaw: “I just bore the living shit out of myself.”

It was a weird thing to hear someone say, and I remember feeling a vicarious grief for her. She was so awesome, and though it had previously been distinctly clear she didn’t believe it, it never occurred to me that someone could find themselves so boring.

Until I started to think about it.

Sometimes, when frustrated, I have a hard time being interested in anything at all. Instead, I go to “mental chewing gum” like iPod apps and Reddit to devour meaningless and potentially exacerbating drivel to feel more exhausted than I did when I started. These days are bad when I planned on being productive.

Today is one of those days. After weeks of living out of boxes, finally getting the walls of my living space taped and painted, I’ve been able to set up my tools the way I want them. For the first day in weeks, I had no rehearsal, no work, no meetings, no nothing. And now I sit here, aggravated at the fact that I don’t want to do anything at all, including just starting abjectly at a T.V. Mostly because I can’t focus.

I haven’t worked on my novel in a long time. These last few years I’ve questioned all the things I want in life, from family to being a successful novelist. I haven’t felt compelled in life in general since I spent everything I had in one emotional fell swoop and lost it all. At one point, knee deep in depression, I said to someone, “I don’t feel like I have a personality anymore.”

“Just be yourself!” they chirped back.

“Okay,” I said. “Nothing’s happening.”

Impulse, I believe, is a key to joy. Not just acting on your whims, but having those whims in the first place.

I don’t feel funny anymore. I don’t feel insightful. I bore myself.

As I read through the first pages of my work in progress, attempting to rewrite the 30k into something more intense, I just don’t care. And then I cringe inwardly as I think of all the times I didn’t hook people, that they didn’t care, even when I hubristically loved what I’d done. I remember when they told something was too long, too confusing. “Nothing’s happening.” “You’re telling a story, not just talking about stuff! ”I bored people. Well, I’m boring myself now. Yet, I have to remind myself, not much else interests me either. That’s what depression does.

When I write things, or say things, they’re interesting to me. I dig deep and passionately. I recently received a rejection from a local contest in which one judge told me I was, “Trying too hard.” This usually means, “You’re trying too hard to make me like you.” Or “You’re being fake.” It was probably the most honest piece I ever written where I really went balls to the wall. I don’t often write something to win, and this was me attempting to get back to that c’est la vie attitude I had in high school that seemed to touch people. Sometimes (often) I feel like when I’m truly being myself people are like, “Stop being so weird and just be genuine.”

How can you tell what’s interesting if nothing is interesting to you? How can you tell if you’re expressing yourself honestly when others insist you’re lying?

When I’m feeling anxious, I remind myself of what I don’t know, of assumptions I make that aren’t founded in fact, but fear. When feeling depressed, I remind myself how often it lies, how your view of self and life becomes warped. Logically, how could you know this? You can’t. You know you can’t. You know you don’t have enough information. You know how you feel differently when you feel differently, feel better, feel more in control.

How do you bore the living hell out of yourself? Maybe it’s because you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe it’s because you’re clouded by negativity. Maybe it’s cause you’re a big ol’ whiner and even you can’t stand it.

Probably the latter.

But in the case of the Snow White of our tale, she probably had some truth to it—some of her unspoken thoughts possibly are repetitive, boring, and whiney. Whose aren’t?—yet I know as an outsider there was more to it than just that “she is boring.” It is far, far more likely that our feelings towards ourselves and the world come from a variety of factors, from self-awareness to diet to situation.

What is the situation that caused my first lines to aggravate me so? It’s entirely possible it’s the lines themselves. Yet, before I call myself boring, I have to remember that it was interesting when I said it, and though the context may have changed, it doesn’t negate that fact that when I wrote it, I was interested and invested in what I was saying. The thought, regardless of how it reads now, at least once served a purpose.

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