Boredom is My Muse

So far, this little writing experience has taught me a whole lot. I’m only five posts into this project and I already skipped the past two weeks. Sure, I could have recycled some drunkcylist post or phoned in some kind of Buzzfeed style list, but I want to make better stuff than that.

This web site has already been extremely educational. It has tought me that I only write when I am at rest. I can only get thoughts out of my head when I’m home, in between trips and generally bored. If I’m doing it right, I am too busy and/or too tired to make any kind of quality words while traveling. Journaling when I am really in the thick of traveling has never worked. So I try to remember everything that occurs and hopefully not forget about it until the next time I’m bored. I have the utmost respect for my friends who are professional writers, photographers and journalists. Being able to crank out creative work while still being immersed in their hobbies and passions is unfathomable to me. It is only when I finally stop, that I can quiet my brain and reflect on all of the things that have happened to me.

I rode my bicycle across the country this summer while towing a trailer. I brought the kitchen sink. A two person tent, a comfy air mattress, all of my camera gear and even my laptop. The idea was to shoot as many photos as possible, every day. Then when I made camp, journal all of the stories and edit the photos from the day. This was great in theory when I was planning the trip. I envisioned Hemingway-esqe moments in my tent, titanium mug of whiskey by my side, tapping away at the keyboard making a classic memoir. Singing the praises of slow bike travel across my great country. In reality I would eat some food and fall asleep half dressed, using my unpacked sleeping bag as a pillow because I was too tired to even take it out of its stuff sack.  But when the pedaling was over and I finally arrived at my destination, the thoughts and words flowed out of me. I would sit on my couch with numb fingers and toes, pecking away at the keyboard. My body was too worn out to play but my mind was wide awake. I started to remember all of my interactions with people along the way. Memories like bad weather on the plains and bike troubles in Illinois all finally started to rise to the surface of my mind. Compared to the previous months, I was now bored. And boredom is my muse.

quiet time

When I return home from a trip, I tend to be anti-social and quiet for a while. I don’t do very much and I am hard pressed to leave the house for too long. I stay up all hours of the night and I sleep very little. I enjoy being awake when everyone else is asleep. I like the quiet that 3:00am brings, it’s good for me. There is that fine line where late night turns into early morning and I find that I am most productive in that sweet spot. In what I consider to be one of the more classic TED talks, poet Buddy Wakefield says:

“If you see me being quiet, don’t ask me what’s wrong. I’m just practicing”

I seem to be practicing a lot more lately and I like the results that I see. I have been comfortable just waiting for the boredom and creativity to happen on its own. But this web site is about breaking out of my comfort zone and pushing through barriers to be creative. I just didn’t think that barrier would present itself so soon. I must jump the fence, break down the walls, and take a running leap at the obstacles in my way. I have been fortunate enough to spend the last two weeks in Arizona riding my bike and sharing stories with old friends. But being distracted and constantley on the move has left me uninspired. Burning the candle at both ends tends to only leave me with only small blob of melted wax to show for it. I will find time to be bored, to create. I will practice being quiet even though I am constantly distracted and lured in by the sirens of the road. Stay tuned. This could get weird.

The Joy of Stoop Sitting

Stoop Sitting

  • 1.
    adopt or be in a position in which one’s weight is supported by one’s buttocks on a staircase rather than one’s feet

Stoop sitting is one of my favorite past time. It is 100% free and requires no accessories or special equipment. It takes nothing more than a set of stairs, a hind end and some free time. You can add snacks, a smoke or beverage if you like, but it’s not imperative. Home stoop sitting is ideal and a good stoop is the number one prerequisite when I am looking for a new place to live. Although stoop sitting is believed to have originated in major urban centers, it can be done in any environment you find stairs.

Just to be clear, I don’t have anything against front porches, I think they are just fine. They are protected from the elements and usually have rather comfortable furniture. But the view from a porch will often be obstructed by railings or shrubbery. The existence of the American front porch has been on the decline since WWII, leaving a country filled with countless stoops to sit on. They are all around us and mustn’t be ignored.

My friend Brendan once said there are only two kinds of people in this world, Soakers and Non-Soakers. He used hot springs as an example to differentiate between people who relax and people who don’t. It isn’t necessarily about relaxation. Just because you aren’t doing something with your hands or fidgeting with an electronic gadget, doesn’t mean it is unproductive. I believe that everyone is a Stoop Sitter on the inside. I like to believe that many great decisions have been made and problems have been solved from the perch of a good stoop. The world could be a little bit better place if we all practiced more stoop sitting.

Stoop sitting is for any occasion. The stoop can be a meditation room or a therapy session. It can be a great place to have that morning coffee or someplace to relax after a hard day. When you can’t afford to go to that concert you wanted to, brown bag a beverage and listen to the show from a nearby stoop. Or you finish a ride or a run and don’t want to go inside yet, post up on the stoop to cool down. Maybe you know a good stoop that faces west, wander over and check out the sunset. Or sometimes you just head out the front door and take a seat for no reason at all.

I don’t know what exactly makes this simple act so rewarding. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the comfortable ergonomics of just the right stairs. Or maybe simply zoning out and watching the world go by provides a much needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of our adult lives. Whatever it may be, it is good for the soul and should be done whenever possible.

Don’t have enough time for Stoop Sitting you say? Make the time. But don’t worry, the stoop always waits.