Robin DeWan
is a musician, writer and conceptual artist living on
Suomenlinna. He holds a degree in literature from the
University of California.

The media is constantly bombarding us with activity options, promptings to overindulge, and stuff to aspire to. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest an alternative: go boring. There are plenty of advantages to downshifting one’s lifestyle. Putting on the brakes may not be easy, but it’s sure to be more adventurous than it sounds.

Boring has gotten a bad rap over the last half-century or so. There was a time when staying home with a good book was the thing to do. In fact, the book doesn’t even have to be that good. An acquaintance of mine recently sought a suggestion online for a “boring book.” Who really needs to go out to an overpriced restaurant in the first place? And last year’s threads are perfectly fine. Besides, there is not much new under the sun anyway – not much to miss.

I for one have noticed it: more people are putting on the bore than ever before. And what’s so wrong with that? They don’t have to dive into debt keeping up with the Joneses, or for that matter giving a hoot about what anybody thinks. There’s a kind of freedom in that – a freedom that folks the likes of Henry David Thoreau, for example, knew well about.

It seems that the culprit for a lot of the boring choices people have had to make lately is the economic crisis. Extravagance just isn’t as feasible nor as cool as it once was. But just imagine if everybody had oodles of dough and could buy anything their heart fancied and manipulate their environment without restriction. I shudder at the thought! Of course, money is no guarantee of excitement. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are natural born bores.

There are plenty of ways to practice the art of being boring: eat the same foods nearly all the time; reduce your consumption to Dark Ages’ levels; hang out at the library; establish a routine that frees you up from having to decide what to do next; and make sure to visit your other newly bored friends on a regular basis. You can all sit around and exchange classic clichés such as, “did you know, every culture has a tortilla?” You can listen to records by trio bands and agree that they deliver “a lot of sound for three guys.” And make sure to have an arsenal of phrases to express your lack of enthusiasm when people start to come down on you, such as, “been there, done that,” and “what’s all the fuss about, anyway?” Steer clear of those mates that always have a hot tip for a night out. How about brushing up on your haiku skills while you’re at it?

“Call it excitement-neutral or
New Stoicism, going boring
is where it’s at.”

Call it excitement-neutral or New Stoicism, going boring is where it’s at. When the economy picks up again, you can always dump this experiment and go back to living high on the hog with all its inherent ups and downs. Or you may decide that life in the slow lane is not so bad after all. But in the meantime, whatever we do, let’s not make boring a trend. That would sort of defeat the whole purpose, wouldn’t it? Have fun!

Robin DeWan