A Boring New Year
Boredom hasn’t been a problem for me in a long, long time. But I can still remember when it was an everyday occurrence, probably in my teen years. In my college days, living in the big (to me) city of Tallahassee, it often seemed like a whole world of excitement was right outside the door — but only for a price. My best friend, Stuart, and I were both broke most of the time so we invented a system of amusement. We’d simply go for a walk with the express intention of finding some adventure. We called it trolling. It was a maneuver born of hunger, but weirdly enough, it always worked. Every walk would lead us to some curious encounter, some place we never knew existed, some pick-up frisbee game in the park, some strangers who needed help moving a keg, some street musician with a great story to tell — if you stopped long enough to ask.
Lately I can’t remember when I had enough time to seek out adventure. With three gregarious kids, a theatrical wife and a challenging job, adventure comes delivered with the morning paper. In fact, I sometimes wish the world would get a little less exciting. It would be soothing to bask in some boredom. It would be great to feel the need — and have the time — to go trolling for adventure.
I must have felt that call in early November when I agreed to work on a story for this issue. We were looking for a middle-aged writer who had never put on a pair of skis before to go on a one-day mission to learn the ropes of downhill skiing and write about it. Maybe it wasn’t just a coincidence that I so clearly fit the job description. Regardless, you can read my report on page 67 of this issue. The Wildcat ski area, named Most Scenic in the East by Ski Magazine, volunteered their slopes and a great instructor. Eastern Mountain Sports offered to dress me up so I’d blend in (and not freeze to death). The adventure began to unfold, but the warm weather in November wasn’t helpful. It was just before our deadline that I was able to get clearance from the slopes, so there was a hectic quality to the process. Still, the trip reminded me of my old trolling days. The long drive north provided time for reflection. For me this was literally a trip into the unknown (I’ve never even been to a ski resort before) so it felt like a leap of faith. It was certainly a departure from my usual schedule.
As I would have predicted, the trip provided all sorts of unforeseen experiences, I met fascinating people and I’ve got a list of potential stories for future research. It occurs to me how important it is to keep some space open in life and to step outside of a rut, no matter how busy or creative it is. It’s during the down time in activities that new ideas tend to pop up and surprises take place — if you keep your eyes open. A little boredom can be a great incentive to take a walk down the street and discover the adventures that hide in plain sight all around us.
So here’s to a happy and occasionally boring New Year for all of us.