What is restlessness? What is boredom? I do not know, but I do wonder. Do they hide behind the bushes along the trail, ready to attack due to our passiveness? Like built-in mechanisms with the purpose to keep us moving? Or perhaps restlessness is there as a reminder, helping us becoming aware that our activity is not aligned with our innermost wishes?
Here the other day I read an interesting article in one of the major newspapers in Norway, Dagbladet. It was written by the Norwegian author and philosopher Einar Øverenget. He talked about the importance of space in everyday life, discussing the different ways we fill our day in order to escape time. This reminded me of an experience I had while living in Asker outside of Oslo:
One day I woke up, I could notice the familiar signs of restlessness. I decided to go for a walk. Instinctively I had to do something – to act. This would alleviate the stress inside. On my way I decided to stop at the liquor store to get a bottle of wine for later. Suddenly I stopped, realizing my frantic attempts to escape the restlessness. I was about to schedule my entire day based on this very feeling. I decided to return to my house. As soon as I was at home again, I decided to sit down and not to move until I was at peace with it all.
I lost count of the number of times I wanted to get up from my chair. It did not take long before I wanted to put on some music. When asking myself why I got up, the answer was that by doing so, my attention would be directed towards the music and not towards the restlessness. Back to the chair again. Another 20 minutes passed, and suddenly I was on the move again. This time to make myself a cup of tea. Not that I needed one, I just wanted to do something to pass my time. I sat down once more.
It took me nearly two hours to accept the situation. I began to sense the outline of a pattern of mine that I had not seen that clearly before. The pattern of me unconsciously reacting to boredom, trying my best to fill every single gap throughout the day in order to escape the moment. Why am I bored? Why this feeling of restlessness? Has it anything to do with me not doing what I am supposed to do? Perhaps I am not making the best decisions for myself at the time? The irony is that my numerous attempts to escape the moment prevents me from finding out. I do not think my battle with restlessness and boredom will ever be won. Probably it is not even important. Perhaps these feelings help us focus on something that needs our attention, and by paying attention more of our potential might be released.