Okay, I lied. It totally is—but it is also a story about hope and curiosity and how under the right circumstances, an unsolved mystery can be like a metaphorical lighthouse. Yes, I just said the phrase metaphorical lighthouse.
For awhile now, I’ve had this tidy plan for my high school posts. It involved character development and narrative arc and me making a timeline on a piece of notebook paper and I was going to be very chronological and organized. Those who know me will understand how laughable this is. You will understand that it just couldn’t last.
So I’m taking a small detour, because I’ve stumbled upon something I want to talk about. And by stumbled upon, I mean it was handed to me again and again.
In the last month or so, I’ve gotten a number of emails from people who are currently in junior high and high school and who’ve had some incredibly personal and insightful things to say about a deceptively rough topic: boredom.
A lot of the correspondences involve frustration—people wondering how to stay sane and if it will get better and most especially, how to survive it on a daily basis. These are good questions and to be frank, I have no answers. Boredom is a tricky thing and it comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes. I can’t tell you how to beat it. But I can tell you what I did.
Here is an admission: for most of my life, I thought people who got bored were just lazy thinkers. I’d always been able to entertain myself, either with a book or a story I was making up, a long run with the dog or an impromptu living room dance-party with my sister. People who got bored just weren’t trying hard enough.
Then I started high school and boredom became my number-one hobby.
When people find out that I was homeschooled by hippies/gypsies/raised by wolves, a lot of times they’ll ask if public school was a big adjustment. I always say no. I tell them I adjusted well and adapted quickly and kept my head down.
And that’s true.
But there’s also another true thing, and anyone who’s ever worked with animals in captivity will spot the signs immediately.
Brenna at sixteen is restless—a fidgeter. She tears up looseleaf paper like a neurotic hamster and chews the erasers off her pencils and picks apart the layers of her pressboard desk. If she were allowed up out of her seat, she would pace just as tragically as the tigers at the zoo. She begins to wonder whether or not it is possible to die from boredom. Literally die.