“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
FARIAS “Ahhh. I’m not sure yet Alva. Give me a second or two.”
Alva was 99 years old and lived independently with Phyllis, his bride of 71 years, for whom he was the caregiver. She had become confused, forgetful and had gone all Alzheimery. He was adamant that she not be institutionalized and so we agreed that he could look after her at home and that I would call him daily to check on him. I did this usually while driving to work with the newspaper in one hand, the phone in the other and a root beer float in another. My knees did the steering, gearing and plenty of veering. Alva loved to do the paper’s Word Jumble and so we would daily compare notes on solving the puzzles.
At 99 he was infinitely more interesting than many 60 year olds. He and Phil loved adventure and went everywhere whenever they could. They were always poor in terms of dollars but they were rich in terms of having truly lived on this rock.
There are many boring people out there, people who seldom venture or adventure beyond their robotic, foreordained, prescribed repetitive days and weeks to experience the excitement this planet offers.
“People who are bored are simply boring people.” Alva would say as he sat in his living room tapestried with treasures of travel. Phil would keep a diary of their adventures and when they returned from Kenya, Khartoum or Kansas she would type up her stories so that they could relive their adventures at will. That tome is now their legacy and really, when they finally throw our carcasses on the scrap heap of life, hopefully well used, enthused and abused, all that we have left that matters is what we did, not what we owned.
As George Carlin observed, “We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.”
Boring Billy Bloggins’ carcass gets tossed on the same scrap heap leaving a large bank account that little Blogginses are now scrapping over. Boring, provincial, lots of useless, unused, overprotected cash and little adventure. A skinny book of life.
Can you be bored to death?
Scientific investigations point to negative health effects caused by boredom. It weakens the immune system, is brutal on your mental health and may be the first step towards depression, substance abuse and low self esteem. Boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and be as dangerous as stress.
When people are bored, dangerous hormones are released in the body that stress the heart. In fact, those who live boring lives are two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who aren’t bored. People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they’re probably not eating carrots, kale and cauliflower. They get into the infamous night time carbs or Kahlua and health begins to suffer. But the biggest problem with being bored is that you become…boring.
To prevent this disease I try and do two wild things every year. My spontaneous or opportunistic bucket list. Last year I met a travel expert who was returning to his favourite place in the world, the amazing safari wilds of Africa. Within minutes I decided that I would join him. Had never been before. Told my wife that night at dinner. “What say we go run with the rhinos, horseplay with hippos, leap with leopards and lions, make merry with monkeys, wiz with the wildebeest and stand in awe (and slightly aside) of wild elephants.” We went. Until you have stood on the Serengeti and Masai Mara and shared a watering hole with a giraffe or a zebra, you really have no idea what real nature feels like. Why wait for age and/or illness to overtake you before emptying your bucket. Experiences await us that are an antidote to boredom. Loved it so much we’re going to go back next year.
My patient and friend Alva was finally tossed on that scrap heap of life, Phil preceding him by a couple of months. He would have loved to dance naked on the Serengeti (which I also was going to do but decided against it, as it apparently is considered provocative to other baboons.)
So if you’ve ever wanted to go to IRACAF, please go. You’ll have a heck of a FARIAS.