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Make Up Sex with Boredom

The tarmac on the aircraft carrier was paved with boredom. For a decent chunk of my life every lift off led to huge turbulence, an occasional enemy encounter, and, quite often, an emergency ejection from the aircraft. This built in me the belief that the runway of boredom is dangerous. In fact, one with my personality would be best served to avoid boredom with the same ardor and vigilance the Knights of Camelot. Wrong-o! I would later learn. Boredom is like a homemade batch of compost. It stinks. It crinkles your nose when it rots. It can also be slimy and tricky to manage. You may end up with sickly, brown sludge that wafts with heat and crawls with maggots. Then again, with a dash of research, problem solving, and commitment, you can wind up with a free batch of fresh earth. Yesterday’s garbage holds the capacity to morph into a living, empty canvas packed with sneaky, hidden seeds of organic, creative matter ready to sprout. Urban composting and boredom are messy and fruitful brands of magic.

In March of 2020, well, you know what happened. About two weeks into the sequestering, I had lift-off. The turbulence was loud. A tailspin felt forthcoming. Every single voice in my head (Yes. There are many.) squealed that we’d entered enemy territory. 

“We’re bored!” The voices shouted. “Abort! Abort!”

The first eject strategy was Netflix. My body read this as turbulence and my brain felt scrambled. Next up was massive amounts of food consumption. Third came the feverish and intense reorganizing. All of these strategies can be gorgeous and adaptive. I, however, was looking for an escape route.

As each numbing tactic wore itself out. I came to terms with the truth.The foreseeable future was alarming full of an abundance of time: time to doubt, time to meander, time to sit on the couch and stare out the cage-like window, and time to discover. I could keep adding layers and layers of nitrous to this trash heap OR I could get intentional, find some dry carbon, and make some magic. Intention and science are fascinating forces, so I chose the latter.

I became a student of projects. I began to study the creation process in a hands on way. The first lesson in projecting myself came from my handy-person, bike mechanic, and teammate extraordinaire named Kate. My hands itched to attack Ursula, my silver Hyundai with purple spray paint. Kate grabbed me by the collar and yanked me backwards.

“Eager Beaver Anika, before you paint promise me you’ll tape it off and sand it.” 

“Why?” I asked. You might find the answer obvious, but I happen to be a quickstart. This means, my primary way of learning and getting things done is by doing, fucking it up, then realizing I have to do it differently. Kate however is a systems person or an implementer. (If you’re curious about the concept, check out Conative Styles online.) Kate likes to see how things work by taking them apart or tinkering. Sometimes Kate learns by studying “the proper way.” Regardless of the rule book, Kate always seems to find a way to make things better than they were before they got their hands on them. Kate’s great for me, most of the things I build or paint fall apart or chip away before I extract my desired use. Kate displays and lives what it means to know a craft. A craftsperson knows every step, understands which ones can be passed over without consequence, and which ones are critical to the success and longevity of a project. 

Brene Brown asserts that “you can’t skip day two!” Day two is the rough, frustrating grunt-work and the middle phase of forging a new way. I say, yes, you can. People skip it all the time. I myself have often and frequently attempted to forgo the rigors of sanding. You can skip it…. BUT, you won’t get the results you truly desire. That is, unless what you truly desire is paint flaking off and rubbing itself into your carpet and wood floors. If achieving your wildest fantasies only to watch achingly as they quickly fade out and fall away is your end goal, then by all means, skip day two. Skip the abrasion. Skip the sweat of rubbing something raw until it’s blank and unimpressive. Skip the phase of being tired and wondering if it’s worth it.

Please know that if you bypass sanding away the beliefs and paint jobs associated with previous ways of being, you’ll pay a high cost. Without that process, the paint doesn’t stick. I’ve learned from experience that when I skip this work, the item or aspect I aim to improve only shines for a couple days, maybe a few weeks. Sometimes I scratch the paint just moving my project into the house. Without the abrasive process of stripping off what we’ve been and recognizing how we’ve been complicit in our own coloring, no paint job or cover story can hide the truth that the topcoat doesn’t match the walls we’ve built or the color schemes that pulse and swirl inside the mind.

So I sanded Ursula’s little top fin before I brought out the spray paint. I buffed off the way she was before and created grooves for her new embodiment to stick to. I taped off her edges and cut out a cardboard boundary to protect her. I gave her a purple blast of attitude without allowing it to spill over into the places that would inhibit her personality or detract from the perception of her worth.

When I finished with the bright purple fin, Kate, a mechanic but also an artist (like so many craftspeople are) snuck my gas cap cover back onto Ursula. They’d layered a black abstract Joshua Tree atop a fierce sunset. Then, a master of linear action and a reverer of expression, Kate protected the piece with a clear topcoat. (Frankly, I’m not there yet.)

While sequestered by circumstances beyond my control, I’d gone from a boxing match, to a lover’s quarrel, to make up sex with my boredom. In this boredom, I looked around and realized that some things in my life didn’t match the color scheme and personality of my spirit. Now Ursula, that zippy, gas efficient, gateway to freedom expressed herself as mine. We matched each other with her edgy gas cap and her flash of brightness. Boredom birthed creativity and creative action led to greater alignment.

I don’t have to fear the runway. I don’t have to treat boredom like enemy territory or myself like an ill equipped pilot. There are many ways to find lift-off. Boredom and a bad ass copilot or tutor are just a couple ways to take flight.


Yogi Gone Rogue


Anika Spencer | San DIego, CA

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