Ennui: Everything looks boring to the bored

I haven’t blogged for a few days and the reason I’ve given for this is depression.

There’s no doubt that when I’m in an ‘up’ mood state I blog more frequently, and when depressed, less so, primarily due to energy levels.

However, currently I’m in a ‘mixed state‘ – depressed with motivational and physical energy – and so what explains my lack of blogging? I mean, I’m pushing along with other tasks.

Well, put simply, I haven’t blogged anything because there doesn’t seem anything interesting to blog about. It all seems so boring and inconsequential.

The question is, does everything subjectively appear boring as a reflection of my state of mind, or, is it an objective fact that everything is just boring currently?

It’s certainly true to say that when I’m in a depressed state of mind, I find things generally uninteresting. So, I would say that depression and boredom are somewhat interconnected in my experience.

For me crushing boredom holds a terrifying fear. I inhabit the world of boredom far more frequently than anyone else I know, and can suffer boredom even in the midst of bustle and excitement. My boredom doesn’t always correlate with my circumstances.

My current blogging-specific boredom is so pervasive right now that I’m actually bored whilst writing this. And yet I’m pushing on for some unknown reason. Will I inflict this pointless post on my dear readers. I doubt it, but maybe I will.

You’ll never guess which environment creates within me the most frequent bouts of boredom. Shall I tell you? Church. I find church to be the single most boring place in my life. I used to quip that church is the only place where time passes more slowly than work.

Isn’t that a terrible confession. I wonder if I’m alone in this? Everyone else seems to love church. I guess it’s just me.

Who would have thought that a bored blogger could write a boring post on the very subject of boredom.

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17 Responses to “Ennui: Everything looks boring to the bored”

  1. Roger Pearse Says:

    Blogging is optional. If it doesn’t make you happy today, don’t do it.

  2. Daniel Mann Says:

    Sorry about the boredom, but here’s a subject that might energize you. At least I think that it should:

    Pastor Terry Jones is at it again, with at least seven deaths in a UN station in distant Afganistan to show for it. On April 5 CNN reported,

    • At least nine people were killed and 73 injured in Kandahar on Saturday, and 12 people died Friday — including seven U.N. employees — when angry demonstrators stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-i-Sharif.

    Ironically, while Jones’ congregation has deserted him, the media hasn’t. Although YouTube had recently removed a video showing Brown University students’ violence against a peaceful pro-family demonstration, it failed demonstrate any moral hesitation about hosting Jones’ provocative Koran burning ceremony.

    Now it seems that the media elites can’t get enough of Jones. Meanwhile, the murderers themselves aren’t receiving similar media scrutiny. Nor are those, a-half-a-world away, who continue to demonstrate against the destruction of a single Koran and in favor of taking even more lives. How is it that the murder of those who had nothing to do with Jones represents justice in the Islamic mind, and how is it that they can continue to demonstrate against the destruction of one copy of a Koran and yet feel no guilt about the murder to seven UN personnel?

    for more: http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2011/04/media-and-koran-burning.html

  3. Charlie Says:

    Hi Stuart. My guess is that many bloggers are a bit uppy-downy. It is the kind of activity that lends itself to that burst of energy which some of us find hard to sustain. I recognise the state of mind you describe, and I have to say that the world is not boring – it only looks boring when we are in that state of ennui. In my own life I find it is triggered by external circumstances – when something big in life is going badly, everything else loses its flavour, and vice versa. I don’t know if that helps you, but as I say, it makes sense for me.

  4. Stacy @ Accepting Abundance Says:

    Stuart, Honesty is exciting though!

    Hey, have you heard of the Boredom Enthusiasts? :-)

    Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation

    “LONDON—”Brace yourself for five piping-hot minutes of inertia,” said William Barrett. Then he began reciting the names of every single one of 415 colors listed in a paint catalog: damson dream, dauphin, dayroom yellow, dead salmon…and on and on and on.”

  5. webmaster Says:

    Ah, love it Stacy. I’d never heard of them I’ll to investigate further.

  6. cymraegray barnes Says:

    As one who swings from fairly low-level exhilaration, to deepest gloom sometimes in the same half-hour (though the gloom tends to outlive the exhilaration by about 75%), I can sympathise with the “everything’s boring” outlook. Let’s face it, quite a bit of the time life is boring!
    What to do about it is the big question. For me, the answer is people.
    Talking to people, listening to people, just being with people – and by the same token, away from one’s own company is a major pick-me-up.
    Why shouldn’t you blog when you’re bored? After all, you can always beat your readers to the delete button if it’s that bad.

  7. Doug Chaplin Says:

    Hey, Stuart. I know the feeling. Why not simply give yourself a day, two days, a week, or however long you think when you say to yourself. I’m not blogging for 24 hours (or whatever).

    On another front, how’s the RCIA process coming along? Is that injecting some entusiasm somewhere?

  8. Peter Says:

    No, you are not alone. Church IS boring. If it weren’t they’d be fuller than they are. What is more; the greatest boredom is generated by ‘trendy’ churches, as they usually end up locked in a cycle of trying to be ‘with it’ and end up much of a muchness. I have spent many Sundays over the last twelve months at various churches of the two faith communities I am studying. One is overtly Charismatic/Evangelical. Every Sunday evening I stand at the back its church while people pogo around the church, dancing and singing much of a muchness choruses (all in F or F sharp – too low for a tenor like me to really get into the swing of) weighed down by first person pronouns – me, me, me… I find it utterly boring. I catch members of the church watching me with expectant, yearning eyes, hoping I will, like them, fling my hands in the air and be overcome with the ecstasy. Instead I have an effort to keep my face fixed in a polite expression of interest, when in reality my expression should be that of someone enduring a wet wakes at Rhyl!

    The other church I visit is ‘traditional’ – tho’ still Evangelical in theology – and I can cope with that a lot better, but still I am bored. For almost three years of my life, I did, day in, day out, for five hours a day, spend my time in chapel, chanting psalms and singing canticles, in a monastic community and I was bored there too (at least I was often cantor and so got a share of the liturgical limelight).

    I don’t think there is anything you can do about it. Church is just boring – it is more of a duty than a joy.

    In my last church, in north London, I did sometimes find myself ‘moved’ by our traditional Anglican choral efforts (I was in the choir); but I came to realise I was very much moved by memory, rather than the present – the present was only a means to visit my past… A past when I had not been bored, when I was not made cynical and wearied by the pageant of tediousness that is the lot of many us who give our Sunday mornings over to church life.

    I don’t think there is an answer to this problem. You just have to toddle on and hope – not unlike an alcoholic or a heroin addict – you might once again stumble on the ‘good hit’ that started you on the road in the first place….

    There is a wonderful line in Geoffrey Curtis’ biography of William Sirr (‘William of Glasshampton) where Fr William says in a letter to a friend that although he celebrated communion every day, the altar was often just a pile of bricks and he felt nothing as he said the prayer of consecration. He went on to be a saint of the Anglican Church, so there is hope for us all!

  9. Webmaster Says:

    @Doug, Sadly the RCIA has hit the buffers. There is a canonical law problem relating to a previous marriage, – blogged here – which could take as long as 18 months to rectify.

    So, will not be received this easter and I suspect some frustration has surfaced in this post, which is unprofessional I know.

    In the meantime, I’m not supposed to partake in the Eucharist, and so I’m in no-mans-land.

    And of course I had the debacle of my rather odd behaviour at the last RCIA I attended. I haven’t been back since.

    Pear shaped comes to mind right now.

  10. Peter Says:

    Following on from your comment to Doug:

    In the Anglican religious life (and probably elsewhere Anglican circles) there is a neologism; the verb ‘to pope’. It means to convert to Roman Catholicism. I have known several people who have done this, both within and without the cloister – and it is something I briefly considered myself. For some it has been a life affirming event (to wander into cliché); for others it has not – indeed the reverse and I have known several slink back to the Anglican fold, licking their wounds and generally disheartened with the RC Church.

    As with a good deal of what happens in our lives, actions that can seem to stem from well reasoned and thoroughly debated motives, can in fact be part of something much deeper; something harder to quantify or give a name to. I am not a great one for ‘psycho-babble’ – that is, looking for hidden meanings in our actions that suggest some trauma or upset at an earlier juncture in our lives or some malady in the depths of our souls. However I have learned that when I find myself getting overtly ‘stirred-up’ about something, either by becoming angry, depressed, blindly enthusiastic, euphoric etc. then it is time to sit down and have a good think about what is causing this behaviour, if it is detrimental in some way, to my life. This is particularly true for what makes me excessively or irrationally angry or depressed. Though in my euphoric moods I can been rather blasé about other people’s feelings or the consequences of my actions.

    I am not suggesting your desire ‘to pope’ is linked with anything sinister or macabre going on in the depths. Yet I would suggest that this ‘time out’, forced by circumstances, is a providential breathing space to take stock. An interesting phenomenon of the monastic life is ‘milestone syndrome’ (don’t look it up – I’ve just coined the phrase, though I am sure others will have said similar things). This is evident in the way an aspirant works hard to become a postulant; a postulant yearns for being clothed as a novice; the novice sees Simple Profession as the goal of the noviciate and the nun or monk in temporary vows thinks fulfilment will come when they take their vow of stability, or life vow. It is not uncommon for someone to achieve all of these milestones (a journey of five to nine years depending upon the community) and then leave a year or so after taking their life vow. I was guilty of the same carrot and stick approach to the monastic life and it is partly why I left. Of course milestones and ceremonies are an essential part of human life. The problems come when they are ends in themselves because they lose the sacramental element and become vehicles for narcissism; they can be a means of the self glorying in the self and its achievements. Tho’ I confess this can be an overly simplistic reading – there are often competing motives, some virtuous and some vain.

    At some monasteries on Mt Athos – and in other monastic communities – an aspirant is sometimes ignored. This happened with me (tho’ as I arrived as an aspirant on the 15th October 1987, at a monastery in a heavily wooded county of the south east of England and the Great Storm took place that night, the brethren had more important things to think about – and I became a whizz with a chainsaw in the process!). The reason given for this shunning of aspirants is because it tests the desire for the Life. In a sense you are now in a similar situation and therefore I would just let go for a while. Just take it as a chance to take stock – and/or a means of testing your intention. The one thing you must not do is to become overly passionate about this. Yes, in some ways you just have to feel like this until you don’t feel like this any longer – easier said than done. The hardest feeling in a situation like this is rejection – and this something few of us ever master to overcome, without at least the odd twinge of anger or bearing a few welts from its injury. It is also stressful – what causes the most stress in life is feeling one is not in control: here others are in control and it is never a nice feeling. So there are very real and justifiable hurts and stresses in your situation.

    My advice, for what it is worth, is to step back from the process of joining the RC Church. Yes, remain in contact with your local RC community, but just have a break from the intensity of it and try to stay clear of repetitive patterns of negative thinking about what has happened. Otherwise you will be dragged down by the burden of it. It could be a time of ‘testing your vocation’ or it could just be a lucky escape. Time will tell you that, for now have a rest from it.


  11. webmaster Says:

    Thanks peter, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

  12. Lucy Mills Says:

    Well, I didn’t find your blog post about boredom boring – is that boring of me? I find that energy levels affect so many things. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue and this affects not just physical but mental and emotional energy…and social, too. I’ve discovered that confidence itself requires energy, confidence in my words included. There are times I feel ‘bleah’ about any kind of writing (problematic as I identify myself as a writer by profession!).

    Some boredom – ennui seems a fuller word – seems to stem from a heavyness, a dullness that has little to do with the content of things.
    I have little constructive to say except – many of us are familiar with it, especially those who struggle with limitations from any kind of illness.

    In these moments it does seem helpful to give yourself permission to take a break, to do something different for a while, and come back fresh later. Guilt over should-dos and always-dones only makes the heaviness greater.

    Now I’m worrying my comment is boring!!

  13. webmaster Says:

    Lucy said:

    ….confidence itself requires energy

    What a perceptive point! It seems so obvious now you’ve said it. I shall dwell on that further.

  14. Suem Says:

    I’m still reading, even if you’re bored writing:)

  15. Doug Chaplin Says:

    Sorry I hadn’t caught up with that particular bit. I’ll probably email you off blog. Thinking of you.

  16. Dreaming Beneath the Spires Says:

    I know a cure for boredom. Grab the kids, grab the car, grab a tent or whatever. Go travelling.
    Nothing like travelling for giving us fresh perspective, and enthusiasm.
    From Bologna.

  17. Anita Says:

    Oh dear, church “shouldn’t” be boring.

    Do you think it is a waste of time if it is?

    Is it geographically possible to visit another church for a while. I’ve been trying new churches rather than St. Aldate’s, my old church for a month–two were far more boring!!

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