The sense of purpose

I used to be so busy. I was, like many, sucked by the glorification of busy. It never was a 9-t-o-5-at-the-office-breaking-a-sweat-at-the-gym-before-soccer-practice kind of busy, but a make-everything-from-scratch-and-tell-wonderful-stories-by-memories-to-the-kids-with-homemade-needle-felted-puppets-while-they-wear-handnits-from-wool-I-dyed-with-plants-I-grew kind of busy. It was the good kind of busy, right? The one that is full of satisfaction. The one that gave me a sense of purpose.

But it still was busy. I still derived my sense of contentment from everything I made happened every day.

So, I aimed for less busy. And the less busy I became, the more bored I became. It’s like I didn’t know how to be happy without being productive. Like my sense of purpose was directly related to my level of busyness, to the end product of that busyness…

As I wrote when we lived in Costa Rica, I realize how much boredom is a luxury in our society and that many people haven’t experienced boredom since they were 12 or 13 yo. But boredom is uncomfortable and unpleasant…

“If boredom is simply a lack of stimulation and the unpleasant feelings that go with it, then the antidote is not finding a source of entertainment – it’s finding motivation to brush away those unpleasant feelings.”– Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike

When I told my dad I wanted to travel full-time so we could live an epic, exciting life, his answer was baffling. He said: “Your life on the road will become your new ordinary and it won’t be as exciting all the time. Life cannot be exciting all the time. 90 % of life is made of ordinary little things. One has to learn to live the ordinary.”

I thought he didn’t understand. Of course, life could be amazing and fascinating most of the time!

The more we travel, the more I understand what he meant. Our days are filled with beautiful moments together discovering new places, but a big chunk of it is still everyday life stuff. Life cannot be (and probably should not be) exciting all the time. But to accept that, I need to learn to live with moments of boredom, of non-entertainment, of ordinary little events. I am not used to be idle, to not be stimulated by conversations or activities, to not feel productive and useful most of the time. 

I know I am blessed to have the space to wonder what to do with parts of my days. I have no more to-do lists to check, no agenda or calendar to fill, no appointments or classes to drive to. I wanted a low-stress life and I truly created it, but I realize that there is a fine line between too little and too much. I know I have to learn to live with less full days and still find this exciting. To learn to not be productive and feel worthy and good about it.

If entertainment isn’t our right, does this mean our days have to be drudgery? Well, sometimes, yes. Life has never promised us non-stop parties and parades. But our everyday rituals can also become our entertainment, if we let them. (…) As an adult, my struggle isn’t recognizing the value behind the little things – it’s intentionally setting aside time, energy, and focus to breathe them in, deeply. Sucking the marrow out of life requires that I sit down in the silence, un-entertained.

And then, remarkably, the marrow-sucking becomes the entertainment I crave.” – Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike

**The pictures have been taken at Lost Creek State Park, OR