Monday, July 06, 2009

My Mentor: Experience

"We must all fear evil men. But there is one evil that we must fear most...and that is, the indifference of good men."
-Priest, Boondock Saints

Does everyone suffer from overpowering fits of apathy, or is it just me? There are times in my life, albeit few and far between, where I just feel...well...nothing. I don't give a shit about anything. I had about a three-day spree of that pretty recently. I didn't want to write. I didn't want to go out. When I did go out, I didn't want to talk to anybody. I didn't want to listen to music. I didn't want to learn anything. I saw the negative in absolutely everything. For the first time in years, I was actually bored. And I never get bored.

I always preach about appreciating the small things in life. So when I don't practice what I preach, when I don't realize the very things I write about in this blog and talk about during my daily life, I become a hypocrite. And hypocrisy is one of the worst sorts of crimes.

But right after I came out of this atypical fit of apathy, a strange thing happened. I got a Facebook friend request from someone I met this past winter. When I went to check out her profile (I always enjoy reading people's quotes) I found a quote that summarized the exact reason that helped me snap out of it. Odd timing, but fateful maybe? Please excuse the cliche feel that is about to overcome you:

"The grand essentialls of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
-Allan K. Chalmers

The cynic in me can find many things wrong in this quote and can pick it apart, demonstrating why it is invariably false. But the idealist in me accepts it wholeheartedly. And at the moment I think I'm an idealist...for now, anyway... but I'm a happy cynic when I am one (NOTE: please ignore the contradiction inherent in that statement).

What helped me snap out of my apathetic state was that I came to realize what it is we all must fight during our daily act of living - we must combat boredom. Above all else, we must avoid being bored at all costs. Find a way to stay active, to stay mentally fresh. This is not a new concept by any means. In fact, when I came to my realization regarding apathy and boredom, I looked up the concept and found hundreds of quotes on the topic:

"The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes."
-Saul Steinberg, cartoonist for The New Yorker

"Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings."
-Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher

"Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top."
-Virginia Woolf, novelist

And so in this last quote we have the reason for the inducement of my apathetic state - I needed to come to this conclusion on my own...the conclusion that boredom is my enemy. Something to be combated. Something to avoid. Something to stomp the life out of lest it permeate all aspects of your life.

I have something to do. I have something to love. And I have something to hope for.

Your best teacher, your best mentor, your best coach, is your own experience.