The following Career Dispatches essay was written by Mike Castle, star of Netflix’s new comedy “Brews Brothers,” now streaming.
We first consider our benchmark experiences with boredom and dread: school, grades 2–16, another student is reading something out loud, either from the book or, darker still, something they’ve written. The boredom is intense and time expands in an unacceptable way.
For dread, we choose the ever-looming fear of financial ruin, of my imminent homelessness. Oh, yeah.
Now we breathe this wonderful coupling of experience right into the center of our heart. And it feels horrible! Then, after a moment, it’s even worse! But then, I realize, that’s as far as it goes. For the next moment I chart the consistency of this back and forth, and it’s as consistent as a Swiss clock.
OK, so we accept that it’s not going away.
So I take these and I lump them together with the other old familiars: depression, jealousy, self pity. Now that that’s all nice and organized I can self-medicate; this takes the form of reading, doing involved comedic bits with my wife, languishing in a slow, unfocused stretching routine on the floor, writing, talking at length with my dog about politics and religion, and deciding to be officially agnostic about the concept of time. If boredom and dread can warp time, then why can’t self-sustenance?
OK, terrific, so now time is out the window.
Next, let’s go ahead and zoom out to change the perspective a bit. Think of the people without the luxury of idle worry, or think of people who are denying the magnitude of this new reality, or of the people without a community of people guiding them, the people for whom time continues to notch in a different way—pretty heavy and vaguely abstract stuff!
But we are experiencing a global moment in which we can be helpful by staying at home, thinking highfalutin, big-world things.
Another way of looking at it is we are being asked to stay at home and lose ourselves in our art, our minds, and our proclivities. So we don’t get to be onstage, we don’t get to sit around with our friends, we don’t get to walk around carefree, and we don’t get to continue living the dream life we didn’t realize we were dreaming, where things are normal and not dystopic. At least not for a while. For a while we are the solitary characters of our choosing. This isn’t true just of entertainers, this is true of everyone. More than ever before, we are being left to our own devices, left to decide the broader tones of our days, which to me (a partially insane person) means that our dreams and delusions are a reality for a little while. But it simply is.
We have to accept it in the same impartial, incidental way that we have to accept depression, death, jealousy, and all the rest of the things we would prefer weren’t the way they are. For a while, we are the characters in the games we play, we are the protagonists of the books we read, we are the ideas in our head that we usually can’t give full attention to. There are worse things.
Curious how others are getting through this? Get more Career Dispatches right here!