“Italy without Sicily leaves no image in the spirit. It is in Sicily that the key to everything is found. The purity of the contours, the softness of everything, the yielding interchangeability of the colours, the harmonic unity of the sky with the sea and the sea with the earth… Those who have seen them only once will possess them for a lifetime.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Jesus Christ, that’s quite a number when it’s laid out like that. 23. In 23 days, I’ll be on a plane to Catania, with some movies, food, and a pair of slippers.
Anxiety about the trip has been on high alert. I’m worrying about money, the heat, what clothes and shoes to take, the business, my 16-year-old deaf and half blind pup, (possible) dodgy internet, driving on the other side of the road, that my family will hate me after two weeks, and just about everything. Oh, and boredom.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but Fear of Boredom has been a recurring theme. Because when it gets hold of me, no suggestion, zero, will pull me out of that funk.
Ennui is rich in my life. Super rich. Like, J. K. Rowling rich. It weaves a thread through every encounter, every thought, every desire, every dream, and every fear. I fear boredom almost as much as I fear making the wrong decision.
My dad, on the other hand, has harnessed life in a way that no other 85 year-old I’ve ever come across has harnessed life. Actually, that’s a lie. My dad, his dad, his grandmother. They’re tireless. Farmers and traders, black marketeers after the war. Dad doesn’t tire – I see him through the window right now, watering my garden, removing dead shrubs, telling me I should pick my pears (I have a pear tree?). Rain tank water drips limply from a soft green hose onto plants and lawn made brittle by the Australian Summer. He doesn’t fight boredom. He works, socialises, eats, and rests. He rests knowing he’s made a difference in someone’s life – mine, Jeff’s. He doesn’t get bored.
I got his curls and his temper, why didn’t I get his vigour?
Of course, I didn’t emerge during a world war, didn’t leave school at nine to work. I didn’t join the local communist party as a teenager. It was a different time, and we are different people. I write, he ploughs.
Boredom is a killer though.
Boredom and overthinking.
That saying that “only boring people get bored” couldn’t be further from any truth. I’m mostly super interesting! But I sure do get bored a lot. So yeah, I’m worried about down time. Do I read? Watch Netflix? Play guitar? Have we made the right (too late to change it now) decision.
See… Boredom and overthinking.
Because boredom is stagnation is boredom. It’s the ouroboros of human existence and time.
And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Jeff and I need a break. A different kind of break from last year’s. Not a holiday. Luckily, we structured our lives and our work for this reason, to be digital nomads (is that still a term?). And yeah, we need a break from our current scenery, to be challenged a little, to see wild peacocks and flamingos, to draw and write under the shadows of ancient Greek ruins. To really spend time with our Sicilian family and a different way of life. To slow our minds the fuck down. And those are very good reasons to do anything. To see what it’s like. To see what is possible with the hope that I’m not running away from anything.
I want to see what I’m capable of.*
Billie Oppenheimer, in his latest newsletter, gives us famous examples of people with “art eyes”. Art Eyes help us see what’s right in front of us, a conversation overheard, a person’s appearance that would go well with a character you’re working on. When we wear our art eyes we also exercise our curiosity, as I like to call it.
60s Italian Pop Music on Spotify
I love 60s pop and psychedelic rock and folk. I’m equally in love with 60s Italian pop by Adriano Cellentano, Gianni Morandi, Mina, Raffaella Carra.
*(But also I feel like I’m putting too much pressure on the trip. As though if this doesn’t work, it’s time to give up trying because, obviously, I’ll simply never ever be happy.)
Photo: DALL·E generated oil pastel drawing depicting the ideas of boredom and overthinking