On Quarantine Boredom and The Inherent Guilt It Evokes

Tegar Budi Aguta, 04 November 2020

I think my body has truly lost all sense of time. The mornings I wake up in during these uncertain times never feel like the regular mornings I wake up to in the previous normal. Significant markers of time no longer have meaning to me. I don’t know what ‘day’ is anymore. Hours just melt into days, days abruptly bleed into months, and months sometimes last for centuries. This ever-growing confusion seems to take a heavy toll on my mental health these past few days as I find it difficult to differentiate boredom from fatigue from stress. Back in the normal days, my body always gave me clear signals alerting me to look after my own constitution. When I get dizzy, I just knew that a quick nap is pretty much necessary. When my eyesight started to blur or when my eyes twitched constantly, it was only natural for me to take some time off from the screen and lie down for a bit. These instincts, whose presence I more often than not take for granted, actually help me navigate and structure the course of my otherwise messy life. But now that the concept of time itself has turned into some sort of relic from the past, an unfamiliar yarn no one can attest to; and that everything is collapsing and happening at the same time, this set of instincts has also evanesced out of my reality. Am I really tired? Of course not! I didn’t do anything but sit on the couch the whole day. Am I bored? But this entire week I’ve consumed any kind of entertainment I could get my hands on. Am I stressed out? Am I exaggerating? What is this? By extension, I began to lump every emotion I experience under one category, guilt.

 I suppose nothing could capture the absurdity of it all during these equally absurd times better than this Dalí painting.

 

 This quarantine guilt tripped me way more intensely than my family ever did. I know for a fact that it simply reflects the extent to which capitalism has warped our perception towards the relationship with time and our own body, conditioning us to see everything in binary terms of profit and loss and, subsequently, deceived us into believing that rest is earned, instead of intrinsically connected to our existence as human beings. Nevertheless, I freaked out. Boredom is quite commonplace nowadays, people are either boring themselves to death doing nothing all day or feeling empty despite having experimented on new different things each day. And yet, when I feel bored, my brain quickly decides to translate this feeling into guilt. When I opened a book I’ve been putting off to read for so long the other day, my head immediately started to get clouded by anxious thoughts and the invisible voice inside me told me that I didn’t try hard enough. When I revisited a couple series and films I used to watch as my go-to consolation on painful days; my attention span, that is unfortunately similar to that of a duck, failed me and I couldn’t keep up with the storyline. Keeping myself entertained has become too strenuous a task. I ended up being frustrated with myself and the cycle of self-flagellation went on. The world is burning, people are dying and/or losing their jobs, and I somehow still have the luxury to feel bored and occasionally spin into a tizzy because I don’t know what to do with the abundance of time or lack thereof at my disposal. In the grand scheme of things, my problems are nothing compared to everything that is transpiring right now. Be that as it may, how can I pay more heed to these important details when I get easily overwhelmed by the most trivial stuff in my life? The world is crumbling. There is almost literally nothing I can do to alleviate this guilt except for the rare happenstances where I can reassure myself that the small matters too, that it makes up the big too, and that my seemingly insignificant life is a part of the universe that needs caring too.

 

Catatan: Tulisan ini adalah hasil kontributor eksternal dan belum tentu mencerminkan sikap redaksi Pers Suara Mahasiswa UI 2020.

Teks: Tegar Budi Aguta 
Foto: The Persistence of Memory (Salvador Dali, 1931)
Editor: M. I. Fadhil

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