|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 29, Tuesday July 24, 2007|
Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
Life in the city can be brain numbing and frustrating. Bound by deadlines and appointments, commitments and traffic jams, it's not surprising to find oneself feeling claustrophobic, and trapped.
Left to itself, this feeling grows, and one finds oneself increasingly listless, bored and discontent. Say hello to ennui.
There comes a time in everyone's life when one feels spiritually suffocated. It happens to different people for different reasons. For a writer, it could simply be writer's block. For a student, it could be the post exam blahs. It could come from being stuck in a job that goes nowhere, or even from having too many responsibilities and not enough time for oneself. So you get trapped, and stay trapped, usually because you only have one way to see the situation and you don't like what you see.
Now, every prescription needs to be preceded by a diagnosis, and before one goes about beating one's ennui, one needs to find the cause for it. The easiest way to start is to ask yourself some basic questions.
Which part of your life feels like it's on a broken record?
Do you find yourself saying or doing things because you 'should' as opposed to because you 'want to'?
What makes you grit your teeth in frustration?
When do you feel like you have no choice?
The aforementioned graduation limbo is intensely frustrating. For the last several months, I have been preoccupied with hurling myself through the remaining hoops for grad school, while I try to prepare for the next step in my life. This has forced me to prioritise my activities based on time commitment and expense (got to pay for that upcoming move somehow). This bottom line is that for the most part I no longer have hobbies or activities."
This can be extremely frustrating, especially for someone who likes to try out different things. The important thing is to recognise where you're going with your major decisions before you work yourself into a corner.
Do you 'tolerate' or 'enjoy'?
Funny enough, just articulating and acknowledging the source of your ennui is often enough to get the wheels turning for a happy change. When you finally get what's got you bogged down it often doesn't feel quite so insurmountable, so big and intimidating.
So look at the problem head on, instead of beating about the bush. Don't be afraid to go into the nitty-gritty and details. Write it down, and make a list. Instead of seeing your circumstances as an obstacle, turn them into a challenge you're willing to take on, and you're already on your way to beating the blues.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
Every once in a while, take out your old photo albums for sun-drying. With the soaring humidity levels that we are subject to in Bangladesh, pictures getting musty and if worse comes to worse, sticking to the plastic covers is a scenario not so infrequent. Since albums are not daily household goods, they tend to be stacked up at the bottom of some closet or shelf with poor ventilation.
So take them out every now and then, flip through the pages and take that occasional trip down memory lane. However, if you do choose to take corrective measures a little too late and complete or partial damage has already been done, some forms of salvage attempts can still be made. Thinking from the positive, if little damage has been done, try and pry out the pictures gently, provided that they are not completely attached to the plastic encasing. If however, after prying them out the pictures look disfigured; there are various photo studios across town that have adequate technology to take up restoration projects. At the end of the day, even if it takes a bit of effort at regular intervals, take care of your albums while you can. Memories are not worth losing over simple carelessness.Beat the Boredom
Re-frame your free time: Ask yourself how your hobby went from being something you took up because you wanted to learn, to something you do out of obligation. So with yoga, for example, rekindle your curiousty. Learn about muscle realignment and muscle groupings. Read about it, write about it.
Go with the flow: The opposite of boredom is the state known as the 'flow', which happens when you're lost in a task, unaware of time passing. For flow, you need the perfect balance between 'challenge' and 'skill.' If something is too easy, it becomes boring.
If it's too skilled, you'll also lose interest. If you play tennis, find a different, tougher opponent. If you run, train for a marathon.
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