Hello and welcome to Walk the Pod, your daily walking show where I take my podcast for a walk because I don’t have a dog, and you take 10 minutes out of the day to walk in nature and to pay attention to what’s directly in front of you. There are two squirrels chasing each other around a tree as I walked past. This is the first Friyay episode of Series 24, Walk the Pod. You are very welcome along, the sun is shining on the cycle path in SW19. It’s the most beautiful day in the world.
I feel an in depth exploration of something coming on as we start this fifth episode of the series. Gaynor and Tati have raised the question of boredom with me. What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to cope with tasks that are dull and tedious and that we don’t want to do? Any advice from stoic philosophy they asked me and I have been trawling, the interwebs for Stoics on the Cycle Path insight into boredom and how to cope with it.
And I have to say I am struggling to know how to explain what I found. I want to thank Leaping Lord Stephen, who lent me a book called On kissing, tickling and being bored by Adam Phillips, which I read bits of and never really never really connected with it. But now, I feel I need to borrow it back from him again, in order to re-read it. I’m going to try to tell you in advance of reading some quotes from that book, what I think Phillips is getting at.
I think he is trying to tell us that being bored is actually very important for discovering who we are. And that one of the big problems of modern life is that we don’t allow ourselves to be bored for a second, we jump onto Instagram or we jump onto eBay or Amazon or Etsy or wherever we like to buy things. We buy things, we consume stuff, we put a podcast on, we stick on the TV, we do anything to stop ourselves from being bored for longer than about three seconds.
And in actual fact, boredom is a fantastic opportunity to work out what we actually want. One of the things that I read on my, on my trawl through trying to find things about this was that being bored can crystallise for us our heart’s desire. And so we should cultivate it. Maybe not boredom, but idleness in order to work out what we actually want to do with our time.
How we spend our time is how we spend our life. I think Annie Dillard wrote something slightly more articulate than that, ‘how we spend our days is how we spend our life’ I think. So, it’s our Stoics on the Cycle Path today. Not really a stoic, I think the longer I do Stoics on the Cycle Path, the more I realise that half the time they’re not Stoic philosophers at all, but you don’t mind I don’t think Poddies, if Stoics on the Cycle Path features Joni Mitchell or… Captain Tim actually sent me a quote from the film Gladiator for Stoics on the Cycle Path.
So if you’re, if you’ll forgive the fact that most of what I’m reading from the Stoics on the Cycle Path isn’t stoic philosophy, then we’ll all get along fine. Tim’s suggestion was ‘what we do in life echoes in eternity’, which comes from Maximus Decimus Meridius from the well known documentary film, Gladiator. He says, ‘say it in an Australian accent, and it sounds really deep.’
Stoics on the Cycle Path
Stoics on the Cycle Path today comes from Adam Phillips On kissing, tickling and being bored.
“Every adult remembers, among many other things, the great ennui of childhood, and every child’s life is punctuated by spells of boredom. Boredom is actually a precarious process in which the child is as it were, both waiting for something and looking for something in which hope is being secretly negotiated. And in since boredom is akin to free floating attention, in the muffled, sometimes irritable confusion of boredom, the child is reaching to a recurrent sense of emptiness out of which his real desire can crystallise. The capacity to be bored, can be a developmental achievement for the child.”
Now, whenever I’m talking about parenting, I’m also talking about self parenting so the child can equally refer to the modern adult. And I think what Phillips is saying here is, if we allow ourselves to become bored, and we don’t immediately leap to anything that can stop that from being the experience that we find ourselves having, we can really discover a lot about what we actually want in our lives.
And he goes on to say something along the lines of being busy, is the best way possible, of preventing anyone, including ourselves, from knowing anything about us. Because the busy person can be doing all kinds of things in order to be productive and efficient. But actually, none of the things they’re doing are providing them with their heart’s true desire, because they haven’t allowed themselves to be bored enough to find out what that is.
What I can see directly in front of me
What can I see directly in front of me? Well, I’m recording this a little later than usual. And oh, very much later, it’s two o’clock at the moment. And due to the beauty of anchor and modern podcasting software, you will be able to listen to this probably at about half past two, if you want to.
What I can see is the sun striking the grass just ahead of me beyond the railway bridge, and many houses that are just off the cycle path interrupting that light with shadows as I walked past a wrapper for a Ben & Jerry’s Peace pop on the floor and walking under the railway bridge now to find that the bottle of Lipton iced tea that somebody put there, and I mentioned in a previous episode, has now fallen over. That’s the big news on the cycle path today.
I can see a cyclist in the distance. Also a person pushing a pram, it’s actually very quiet on the bike track today. Few people walking around some tiny, beautiful flowers on a little tree here. Not quite sure what this tree is but five lobed flowers, beautiful white flowers with a little bit of I don’t know what you call answers could be anthers Poddies, I don’t know, botanists, please get in touch. Little little blobs of pollen on the ends of on the ends of the strands coming out to the middle of the flower. Good grief my botany is very bad, isn’t it? Don’t do any of the proper botany words. But you know, I’ve never been good at identifying trees or pups. It’s not something I excel at, unfortunately.
What a beautiful day though. It’s absolutely gorgeous out here. If you’re thinking of going for a walk today, get out and enjoy the sunshine. The birds are singing everywhere. It’s just lovely. And on Friyays, I offer you a formal invitation to join the Walk the Pod walking club. Please go to rachelwheeleyisfunny.com and join up for behind the scenes content. There are lots and lots of things you can enjoy. If you sign up to the Walk the Pod walking club you can see daily photographs from behind the scenes on the podcast of my actual life on Mondays through Fridays. You can join the Walk the Pod community message board which features a number of channels, including our film club, which will be meeting tonight to watch What We Do In The Shadows, our book club, our cloud spotting, cloud appreciation club, we have Poddies posting pictures of their favourite clouds from all over the world. It’s just, it’s a really lovely space, it’s a very good vibe. And if you are on social media and think that it can get in a bin, you’ll enjoy this particular social media platform because it is just, it’s just a lovely, friendly, happy space for walkers celebrating their daily walks.
Supreme Cross Border Selector, Nige of Galicia, shared a Twitter thread yesterday under the banner, ‘social media can not always get a bin’. And I think we’ve agreed collectively that if social media can get in a bin, you may be following the wrong people. So that’s me told. And I think there’s an enormous amount to be said, actually, for not following people who are trying to do the same thing that you’re trying to do. Because that causes inevitable comparison, and sadness.
Best thing to do is probably to follow people who inspire you. And maybe I just need to recalibrate who I’m following on these platforms. I don’t know. Oh, lovely. It’s really, really nice out here. Very excited to go back to my flat and have a cup of tea and a bit. And then I need to do some tidying because Captain Tim is coming around for the Walk the Pod Film Club. So gotta clean the place. And that’ll be the end of our first week of series 24. A whole week nearly over already. And this has of course, been my healing week. So I’ve been resting really hard. And I feel much better for it. The kids are on half term next week. And then towards the end of the week, I will be tentatively back to work. So thank you for walking with me. It’s been an absolute delight to walk with you on the bike track this week. I really appreciate you coming with me every day.
I hope you’re enjoying the pod if there’s anything you’d like to request on the pod, if you’d like to say for example, Rach, why don’t you put Stoics on the Cycle Path in the show notes for every episode so that I can also read what they what they have to say as well as listening to you – something I’ve been considering doing, or any other feedback, email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can go to walkthepod.com. And you can leave me 59 seconds of your beautiful voice as a voice note. I listen to every single one, I read every single email I get. I deeply appreciate every single email I get. Because I am a very needy content creator. So I absolutely love any kind of message or contact from anybody at any time. But I will be trying to cultivate idleness and boredom a little bit over the weekend and actually spend some time reconnecting with myself and what I actually most desire in that space. And I’d love it if you would do the same and maybe let me know how you get on. Take care of your beautiful mind, and I’ll be back with episode six on Monday.