Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I woke this morning with the memory of these, my sister's words, as she was dying: that she was looking forward to "the next adventure." And I realized, with some reluctance, because it is somehow shameful to admit it, that I am bored. (There must be some reason that John Berryman's 14th Dream Song keeps returning to my mind. It has done ever since I first read it, nearly half a century ago.)  I realize that some part of me is looking for the next adventure, while some other part of me resists it.

I'm not tempted by the adventure that my sister was referring to. Unlike her, I am not yet ready to take that ultimate path.  But I long for some kind of adventure. I don't know what. A retreat? I think about the great adventure I took, now more than twenty years ago, the New Warrior Training Adventure, that shook me to the core and radically changed the course of my life. Without it, I would perhaps not have found the path into my meditation practice. Now even that, dare I say it?, risks becoming... boring.

Being bored, as Berryman's mother told him ("repeatingly"--read the poem) implies that one has no Inner Resources. It reflects poorly on the person suffering from the ailment. It suggests a lack of imagination, a failure of the drive that keeps us moving, an indolent retreat from all those things that make life exciting, an unwillingness to take on life's challenges. And so on.

Still, boredom is a real experience. I sat with it this morning, after waking, for an hour. Watching my mind being bored with itself. Thinking boring thoughts. Casting about for some small hint, some signpost, some trailhead toward a next adventure... Now into my eightieth year, I have to think that there must be some way forward, some new leap into the unknown. I just don't see it yet.


robin andrea said...

I hadn't ever read Berryman's poem before, and I am so grateful that you posted the link. Oh yes, I am bored too. Life is boring. I think Berryman's mother sounds condescending and detached. We humans have stripped away most of the essential aspects of our evolutionary underpinnings and are cast about looking for ways to remind ourselves why we are here. So, we eat without having to forage; we drink without having to walk for water (or wine!); we stay warm without building a fire; we dress without having to shred a single thing. Yes, we are bored.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Robin. It's always good to hear from you. I have always loved the Berryman Dream Songs, and this one in particular because it is so dreadfully honest. The images that you post, however, reveal an engagement with the life forces around you that I find delightful and inspiring. I'm just about to post the strange story of a bird in our garden. I hope you might catch it. Love to both, Peter