Driven by expectation and boredom

Jonas Ellison
3 min readMay 9, 2022

Rory is at such a sweet and lifeful age… She’s not an adolescent yet which means that she hasn’t reached the age of wanting to sleep until noon. She wakes up with the sun and immediately wants to know…

What are we gonna do today, Dad?!

Her driving internal questions are…
What now?! What’s next?! What’s exciting?!

She lives her life via a string of things to look forward to… When is she gonna hang out with that friend? When is she going to get that new thing? When are we going there? When is so and so coming to visit?

Do you remember this time of life? I do. When you counted the days and hours until that next sleepover with a friend. Or Christmas — how much longer must I wait??!!

And until that next thing happens, she’s overwhelmed with boredom. I’m so bored! Gaaaaah! I can hardly stand it!

I even see the boredom hit when she reaches the object of her desire. It’s never. Quite. As good. As it seems.

We humans seem to be driven by this… We’re fueled by expectations and hope for things that haven’t yet happened. We yearn to see things materialize. We’re propelled by it.

I look over at my dog, Dagny, a Shih Tzu Terrier. And I really don’t think she gives a shit what’s coming up until it does.

She’s not hungry until she’s… hungry.
She’s not playing in the yard until she’s… playing in the yard.

When she’s not going for a hike or playing (which she hardly ever does) she looks as bored as hell, but it also seems that she’s perfectly at peace with her boredom. Even when she’s anxious (like when she can’t find her pet human, my wife), she’s anxious because something is currently happening. She’s not making up non-existent anxieties. Her pet human is missing and she must FIND HER!

Hmm… Dagny never seems to have left the garden of Eden. She’s always kinda there.

But the way our internal world works is different… We have this insatiable inner yearning or longing swirling around inside of us that we have to deal with. We want the next thing. We can’t just be okay where we are. We live in the past and the future most of the time.

Sure, I envy Dagny for being ever-tethered to the present moment. For not ever desiring or hoping or projecting or reflecting.

But then again, I don’t know… Maybe this is what makes life interesting. Maybe this is what makes us human. We can play around with time and space. We can forget who we are and then remember. We can experience what it’s like to not feel whole and then we can experience what it’s like to come back into a wholeness that has never truly been absent.

Or maybe this is why teenagers want to sleep until noon. Because they’ve lived a few years with the exhausting inner longing and boredom that my daughter is overdosing on (and that has become so ingrained in the subconscious of an old guy like me). And the comfort and numbness of just being asleep for an exceedingly long time is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Jonas Ellison

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