I’d like to blame my absence of recent posts on spotty internet access, but the truth is I’ve just been lazy. As I get closer and closer to finally leaving here and heading back home, my motivation to write has been waning because getting home has literally been the only thing on my mind. With every day here being just like the last, and a singular thought or focus on my mind… Well, I haven’t exactly been brainstorming up a ton of ideas to jot down or explore.
The unexpected upside of this is I’ve slipped into a consumer mentality. I cannot get enough information right now on anything. I’m hungry to learn and know more about virtually any topic. From watching episodes of The Wire, to sitting outside with a cigar and listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, I just can’t fill my brain fast enough right now. I tend to listen to podcasts at double speed anyway, just to fit more in the time I have. But this thirst for knowledge…
All I have right now are questions that need answering. Where is the best place to start learning to appreciate Miles Davis? Is one novel better than another for an introduction to Stephen King? What’s the difference between Tantra and Yoga? Why does The Macallan 25 year fine oak single malt cost twice a Glenfiddich 30 year? How did a man as hideously ugly as Eddie Money ever get to be in his own music video? Why does this mp3 sound better even though it was recorded at a lower bit rate? What martial arts studios are there in Fargo, North Dakota? How does one learn blacksmithing? And does this look infected?
Ok, some of those were a little over the top but you get my meaning. I need new stuff to think about. I need to put my mind into action because the repetitive nature of being deployed is driving me mad. It’s like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing over and over and my sole focus is getting out. And no, I haven’t tried the toaster in the bathtub yet.
All this to say… What? What’s my goal or statement that I’m trying to come to? To be honest, I didn’t know when I began typing this. This was just free-form so I’d write something. Anything. But the more I think about it, I do have a concern bubbling up in the back of my mind.
There are two paths we can take when we’re bored. Actually, just one with two divergent means of accomplishing it. But we must put our minds to work. This isn’t an “idle hands being the devil’s plaything” concern, so much as a simple statement about our dissatisfaction and how it is cured.
One option for putting the mind to work, is looking for answers and knowledge. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is free in digital form, as is Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Lots of great books are old enough now to be in the public domain. Despite all those who would deride it, Wikipedia is amazing collection of knowledge and much of it is cited from “legitimate” sources. I can’t recommend the Khan Academy highly enough for free online learning.
The other, easier option is just engaging the mind enough for entertainment purposes. Now let me be very clear: I love movies and pop culture. This isn’t a blanket dismissal of the entertainment industry. This is a critique leveled directly and the brainless crowds who think My Super Sweet 16 or Jersey Shore is quality television. The crowd who, when bored, never want to learn and only want to be entertained. The people who can name contestants on American Idol, but can’t recall a single recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I hate those people, and I’m not afraid to say it.
As a kid, that’s one thing. I was trapped in school all day, so of course I didn’t want to learn more. Yuck! I just wanted to play Nintendo and watch Ninja Turtles. I get that. It’s when the person is older that willful ignorance and mental laziness become a problem, because that’s when we’re giving back and contributing to society.