The Over-stimulation of Adulthood. Sometimes Boring is Best.

This past January was the 100th anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s arrival at Ellis Island.  He was five.  It’s hard to imagine how bored he must have been, coming to America on board a big, dirty ship, with probably little more than a stick, a hoop, and some marbles to occupy his time.  That kid was justified in whining “Are we there yet?”  I have three kids in the second grade.  Some days it seems as if they could be standing in the middle of Disney World with an American Girl doll in one hand and a Nintendo DS in the other and they’d still walk up to me and say, “Daddy, I’m bored!”  It seems as if over-stimulation is the new norm.

It’s true for adults too, and I’m as guilty as anyone.  Between my Blackberry and my laptop, email, voicemail, Instant Messaging, text messaging, and good old-fashioned phone calls, I am most often plugged in.  But even apart from the technological distractions of life in 2010, adulthood in and of itself is anything but boring.

In the past two weeks, all of the following have occurred in my life:

I received a medical bill for more than $1000.
My wife turned 40 and we hosted the party.
My son’s teacher called with some disturbing news (on Spring Break, in fact).
I received two bills from my accountant totaling more than $1200.
I learned that a friend’s marriage had been on the rocks for a year, and might be over.
I endured a root canal.
I booked a 60-hour trip to California for a wedding, 16 hours of which will be spent on various airplanes.
I received a cancellation letter from my largest client at work.
My #1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks tanked again before reaching the Sweet 16.

This is an entirely different type of over-stimulation.  This is adulthood over-stimulation, and enough is enough.

There was one good, no – great thing that happened over the past two weeks.  I took some time off, and so did my wife.  She and I have been married for a year and a half but we’ve yet to take anything resembling a honeymoon.  It’s hard to do when you have three kids from day one.  With my two in Virginia with their mom, and my step-daughter in Florida with her grandparents, it was game on.

View from the cabin

The view from our deck.

We booked a log cabin near the Great Smoky Mountains and left the laptop at home.  We packed a couple of small bags, picked up a few libations, and headed for the hills.  Now, I have to admit that we both brought our Blackberries along, and we both received calls, and we both went on Facebook.  In fact, the cabin had three flat HD televisions with Direct TV, and the NCAA Basketball tournament was on!

So, while we didn’t exactly unplug for two days, we did specifically make time to slow down and unwind.  Like when we went for a little hike out behind the cabin, and could barely make it back up the hills we had nearly log-rolled down.  That was so relaxing that I’m pretty sure I had a high ankle sprain, and my wife’s leg was cut through her newly torn pants.  Still, it was a wonderful memory in the making.  As was driving to the top of the Smokies, where about 6 inches of snow remained in spite of the fact that it was nearly 70 degrees at the base.  As was playing cards with my bride and best friend.  As was soaking in a 102-degree hot tub on a private deck with a 40-mile view of the countryside.  As was watching the sun rise over the mountains at 5:30am – a time that I normally can’t imagine being awake.

Yes, there is something to be said for being a boring old adult.  Some day our kids will understand that busyness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Sometimes boring is best.


~ by suitenectar on March 22, 2010.

One Response to “The Over-stimulation of Adulthood. Sometimes Boring is Best.”

  1. A few generations back people found stimulation/entertainment in the face of boredom, now we find boredom in the face of stimulation/entertainment.

    For example, my grandparents made their own toys and invented their own games. Compare this with the example you gave about the bored kid in Disney World. Over stimulation (AND over exposure) is worse than I thought.

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