Warning. Many changes of pov will occur (unashamedly) in the following post.
Waves lapping, cool breeze blowing, soft sand beneath the feet, a hoppy reggae cover of ‘human’ the killers vibrates around the island – Luli Island of Puerto Princessa to be precise…
Of all the contented states of mind that a utopia permits, Roon finds himself with the severest affliction of a debilitating boredom from the past 16 years.. Yes, in this most heavenly of places, amidst the olive tanned phillipinos who sing and dance and make a noble effort to relieve him of his pathetic indifference with an abundance of young coconuts and an endless freedom of song discretions, he expresses the exact same spirit of despair he had at 6 years old when he was confined a fortnight to his bedroom for picking putty from the schoolmasters window. He wiggles his toes in the sand, angles his elbows behind him in an awkward attempt to appear relaxed, and ventures a wistful glance toward the sand and the sea, yearning, in all this wondrous paradise for a single worthy point of interest. He soon finds his effort unremedied, and begins, against his own will, the prolonged surrender to the pockets of his swimshorts, and finally, after suffering a desperate and protracted confusion of conscience, he tilts his head toward his phone..
Nothing comes at first. His thumbs hover above the display, scurrying around in concentric circles, this way and that way, advancing and withdrawing as if on the precipice of some momentous inspiration, but by and by, they become wearied, then inert and end drooped low in an exact reflection of the frown upon his face. He was well and truly stuck. Stuck for a single kernel of interest, on this forsaken island or in his forsaken mind. He knew from Stannis Baratheon that boredom indicated a lack of inner resources and was resigning to the life of an invalid when in a sudden flurry of clamourous concatenation the revolutionary thought landed heroically and supplied him with the relevant fix he needed.
Right this second, on the other side of the planet, students of biomedical science at the university of Sheffield will be bundling themselves through the turning doors of the information commons, as they blink the sleep bogeys out their eyes and push through hoards of students fighting for seats n screens in the midst of December exams. I’ve just been snorkelling through turquoise waters in a nearby reef. Deep red corals, schools of vibrant fish and that rare feeling of extraordinary calm under the water surface as rays of sunlight pierce and dapple through the swash…
As much as it appears, I’m not intending to incite envy or lust in readers.. It was an entirely selfish thought, fuelling only the deepened appreciation that comes when we relate our current situation to an all too familiar alternative.. I find it weird and interesting that we so often work that way; fulfilment by relation. One of my best mates will be one of those students, imprisoned by their workload, pervaded by stress and frustration, and here I am using his circumstances to level up mine.
Ok, so that was hardly revolutionary, but, a little web exploration turned out that the insight has legs in popular psychology theory.
In 1954 social psychologist Leon Festinger posited the landmark principle of ‘downward comparison‘ “that persons experiencing negative affect can enhance their subjective well-being through comparison with a less fortunate other” Most of the subsequent literature exemplifies this in regard to ability or performance, where for example, someone unhappy with an exam result could take solace in their worse-off peer, but, by extension, it can be applied to situations and circumstances also.
Perhaps that’s all my boredom was asking for in that instance – proportion. (And a good idea..)
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Read part 1 here