Welcome home

By Greg Dixon

How on earth can anyone be bored at home?

I can most certainly imagine being bored at someone else's house or being bored to death at work. I can envision being bored witless sitting in traffic, or in a doctor's surgery, at a rugby game or a dinner party.

I just cannot imagine - nor even conceive of - how one can possibly be bored in one's own home.

Yet evidently people are. At the beginning of the Great Flu Scare of 2009 - when the Government's goons were still putting people into quarantine - so many of those who were locked up in their homes claimed to be gripped by boredom. It seemed to be, more or less, the only thing most of them had to say to the various hacks who turned up to cover the Great Flu Bore of 2009. I kept expecting to read the headline "Man survives flu, dies of boredom".

Funnily enough I spent all late May and early June praying that I would somehow bump into a swine with flu so that I might be infected and I, too, would be told to go home and stay there.

I could think of nothing finer.

Now this is not because my home is actually finer, nor, for that matter, is it bigger, more luxurious or in a more salubrious suburb than anybody else's.

Neither is it that my home is chock-a-block with whizbang gadgetry and other wildly exciting 21st century ways to stave off tedium. And no, my home isn't made from ecstasy so that all I have to do to entertain myself is lick a wall.

It's not that I have a high threshold for boredom either; quite the opposite. I know boredom intimately and feel its small, bony fingers poking at me rather frequently.

No, what it comes to down to is this: I am a homebody, and my home has been engineered so it serves not only as a dwelling but as, for want of a better way to describe it, the spiritual centre of my world.

* * *

Spiritual is an interesting word. Mostly it's used to mean relating to religious belief. But what I mean here is that my home informs my emotional state.

Happiness dwells there, indoors and out. It is in the bookcases and in the kitchen. It is in the softness of the bed, in the sun streaming through the windows, and in the endless games of Scrabble with Michele over the Christmas holidays. It is the black pot by the old plum tree in which, every year, bright green hostas grow, their waxy leaves forming droplets of water into pearls.

Happiness can be found on the couch, the black leather one that the cat favours too, where on cold winter afternoons we will both lie, me watching old films, he fast asleep on a blanket. Happiness is lying on the spare bed under a blanket reading a book, in the rich scarlet of the daylillies which fill one whole garden out front and flower each spring with such abundance that every year I fear it will never be as lovely again.

In summer, happiness resides in one of the deck chairs, where I might sit and read and smoke with my head in the shade, the rest of me in the sun. It is there in the garden, which is even more lush and jungle-ish in the first months of the year. It is in the lounge when the french doors are open and a cool southwesterly breeze blows through. It is in a G&T made with plenty of lime.

* * *

There have been many, many weekends and some holidays where I have come home and - with the exception of perhaps an outing to the supermarket - stayed home, my whole world reduced to five rooms, the garden, the cat and Michele. I can't remember regretting a moment of it, or wishing to be anywhere else in the world but where I was.

It may be that I am very odd indeed. It may also be that I am very dull indeed. Or it could be that I've come to understand what makes me happy. And it doesn't necessarily require those hostas or deck chairs or the clatter of rain on the tin roof to be living the absolute antithesis of boredom. All it needs is a willingness to stay still and breathe, and an unrepentant commitment to moderate-to-serious self-indulgence.

We have lived in our home, Michele and I, for more than a dozen years now. It is the longest either of us have lived anywhere. We both say, quite seriously, that we wish to die there. And when we do, it won't be of boredom.

- NZ Herald

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