I’m posting this now as I’m not sure when I will have time before I leave on my WIFI free journey across Canada via train.
Via Rails # 1, The Canadian operates from Toronto to Vancouver. The train stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Jasper, with several departures in each week. The 4466 km journey takes 83 hours. The Canadian travels throughout the night. The journey aboard “The Canadian” is considered one of the worlds most spectacular train trips. Breathtaking scenery displays every minute of the way between Toronto and the Pacific Coast.
I’ve been pretty excited and quite nervous for this part of the trip. Partly because of the pressure I have added to myself to try and get a good half-a-PHD 1st draft out ready for 3rd year in October (Massive GULP). And the pure boredom I am worried I might experience. But this is good. I rarely sit with my thoughts. mostly because I am scared of them. My mind wanders to my pain, to how long is left, failures, my lack of ability to hone my successes and use them usefully. Whether or not i am making any marks along the way.
But despite such morbid thoughts, repressing them doesn’t do me any good either. They eventually come out in depressing conversations at midnight over Facebook messenger or rants in emails to friends who casually asked how everything going. If I really think about it, I hardly ever allow myself just time to be BORED. to do, like, nothing.
We live such heavy lives full of constant stimuli, from never ending choices on Netflix, and a constant flow of tweets, 24 hour news rolls, people replying work emails at all hours of the night. It’s hard not to be able to have proper protected quiet time, that’s not connected. Part of this is my own fault. I LOVE being connected. Even if i don’t actively post anything. If I can connect to a free wifi connection, I will. I constantly check emails, which is the worst as I forget I’ve READ the email until it comes back to me like a dream a few days later that I never replied it! Then you end up reading emails which you can’t stop thinking about as it’s about work or something else.
Doing nothing is often boring, and boredom is often crazy-making. In a 2014 study, published in the journal Science, researchers reported that many people preferred self-administering electric shocks to doing nothing.
F. Scott Fitzgerald thought boredom was necessary for writing: “You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges.” The poet Mary Ruefle speaks of “the vital necessity of wasting time, of loafing and doing nothing.” Two recent studies lend scholarly weight to such claims: People who have been bored demonstrate increased creativity, and are better at associative thinking than those who have just been relaxing.
Here we should celebrate our delight in tedium. Boredom seems to result in creativity only when given the right conditions. Yet at the same time, creative thinking is what makes boredom tolerable: A factory employee dreams up home redecorations on the assembly line, a salmon fisherwoman plans the evening menu while hauling nets, a medical salesperson decides in a meeting to start raising bees.
So what turns doing nothing into creative fuel? the best way to really use boredom is to allow our bored minds to wander freely and to pay close attention to where they go, like watching a Ouija board supply answers under our own fingertips.
one man’s cesspool of distractions is another man’s muse. Sometimes boredom serves as empty ground on which to build new ideas, while other times it acts as a guide to our true desires. You have to wait and see; above all, boredom is the master of the long con.
Research, like the path I am taking to it, is all about delayed gratification. And I think putting myself in the line of adventure, and beauty, whilst being trapped on a moving cart through the Canadian Landscape, being unconnected to the internet world, is the perfect way to be bored.
I have with me a bunch of change of clothes, some soda, Huel, Water, crisps, fresh fruit, sweetish fish and M&Ms, hummus, and carrots. My laptop with a spotify playlist I’ve created and downloaded. My laptop holds only 3 movies: Home Alone 1, 2 and 50/50. I have my 11,000 + already written garbage to start me off and I have 4 plastic folders rammed with essays and articles on information design. I have 5 hours of audio of discussions on patient leaflet designs and experiences. A book all about making a house. And a book all about pain. and endless downloaded PDF research papers across a diverse series of information.
And I hope that this should be enough.
The train makes multiple stops, and spends long periods of time in specific stops such as 3 hours in Jasper! So I am looking forward to that.
As always, I’m living on bonus time. Here I have some time, and if I use it well, it will be more than enough.
To adventure, to making time, to boredom, to hope, to friendships and love, to taking risks, and to life and living — but most of all, here’s to being and *feeling* alive.