Yesterday was a beautiful, early spring day. Warm and sunny, it was the kind of day that demands outside activities and encourages risk-taking adventure. I could have gone skydiving on such a cloudless day; I could have gone rock climbing. I could have jumped off the bluffs into the frigid but refreshing lake water below; I could have gone hang gliding off a mountainside or horseback riding through the countryside.
I could have engaged in any of these activities, but I didn’t and I wouldn’t because, as I have established previously, I am a coward, and more importantly, I am a boring person. I readily admit this unfortunate personality trait; in fact, it would be silly of me to attempt to deny such an obvious statement of fact when there is so much supporting evidence.
Exhibit A (Favorite Pastime): Whenever I am invited to a big, social gathering with lots of people (most of whom I will know), good food, great music, and guaranteed laughs, I have a hard time convincing myself to attend. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy being there–I probably would–and I’m not trying to be anti-social. It’s just that my recliner, my book, and my pillow are often so appealing and so comforting that I can’t make myself leave them behind. Bor-ing.
Exhibit B (Preferred Mode of Transportation): I traded in the sexy sleekness of my sporty Camaro convertible for the comfort of a Chrysler minivan. Who does that?
Exhibit C (Daily Menu Selections): For the last three months, I have eaten oatmeal every morning for breakfast and peanut butter and crackers, carrots and an orange every work day for lunch. No variations, no substitutions–and even more telling, no complaints.
Exhibit D (Greatest Passion): “Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverbs here!” I love grammar. Grammar rocks. If I were given the opportunity, I could (and I would) talk about subordinate clauses, unclear pronoun references, gerund phrases and dangling modifiers all day to anyone willing to listen (and then happily conjugate irregular verbs in my dreams). Unfortunately, so far I have found no one–no one!–willing to listen and must therefore keep my passion bottled up inside until it leaks out accidentally, drip by unwelcome drip, in conversation.
Exhibit E (Greatest Weakness): I am lousy at making small talk. I can remark on the the heat, the wind, the predicted storms as well as the next person; I can inquire briefly about spouses and children and jobs–and then I am stumped. I realize that few people outside of the English department want to talk about geeky grammar (vocabulary or poetry, Shakespeare or Steinbeck), I know that most people probably aren’t interested in my frequently controversial opinions on world issues, and I’m sure not going to bring up politics or religion (danger! danger!). So, I will stand in awkward silence, racking my brain for something witty or intelligent or safe to say, while others squirm in misery and wait for an opportunity to politely exit my presence.
Exhibit F (Unvaried Appearance): I have worn the same hairstyle for over 20 years (probably closer to 30). I have 17 pairs of black pants (in a variety of sizes and styles) hanging in my crowded closet. Black is slimming. Black goes with everything. Black is practical. You can never have too many pairs of black pants. And when it comes to evening wear, I do not own an evening gown and can’t imagine an occasion for which I would need one. In fact, my evening attire of choice is flannel pajamas in winter or an over-sized t-shirt and shorts in summer. (By golly, no one is ever going to accuse me of trying to be sexy!)
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have I provided enough incriminating evidence to convince you–without a shadow of a doubt–of my alleged boring personality (or need I continue with additional evidence)? Have I confirmed what you already suspected? And if you’re still undecided, here’s another little fact that most people don’t know: My mother’s maiden name was “Boring.” I’m not kidding. I have “Boring” in my genes.
Several months ago, I pledged to take more risks, “to tiptoe ever so slightly away from the safe and familiar.” To date, I have not kept that pledge. But here’s the thing–does it really matter as long as I am content with my ol’ boring self? Surely there are others not so different from me, people who don’t need unnecessary drama in their personal lives, people who aren’t interested in challenging the status quo and who appreciate the comfort of knowing that today will be quite similar to yesterday and the day before–and that tomorrow holds the promise of being much the same way.
So what if I didn’t do anything adventurous–or productive–on a sunny Saturday? Sometimes, I think, we get too hung up on the notion that life should be exciting when all it really needs to be is appreciated and enjoyed. I breathed in the heavenly aroma of a just-starting-to-bloom lilac bush. I basked in the warmth of glorious April sunshine. I gazed at a brilliant sun descending into the depths of a glassy lake. I watched a ballgame; I watched a movie. I read, I smiled, and I laughed (and once I even snorted). Boring? Maybe. Perfect? Definitely.
“Try to be like the turtle–at ease in your own shell.”