Ennui For Me

June 26th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 41 comments

You know you’re in for a rough time when you hear a speaker begin his speech by saying, “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking.” I hope that this Musing isn’t an echo of that as I say, “Unaccustomed as I am at having nothing to say…”

As an introvert, the increased isolation engendered by COVID-19 has been less burdensome on me than on my extroverted friends. We do not have a house of young children needing almost-constant attention. My instrument for work, otherwise known as my computer, is readily available and my husband and I enjoy each other’s company.

What I have noticed, however, is that I am beginning to bore myself. The news rotates on a cycle of Coronavirus, protests, violence, racism and perfidy. Hypocrisy and lies are constant. How much more is there to say? Opportunities to speak to regular people are limited and most politicians and pundits are predictable and amazingly disconnected from reality.

I am disappointed that, in confusing and momentous times, President Trump,has so far failed to address the nation as a strong leader. While he could not say or do anything that would result in the press or many Americans treating him fairly, he could and should have provided his citizens with straight talk and with uplifting inspiration.

I am disappointed at how many gullible people think that a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Joe Biden. That demands a naiveté that historically leads to disaster The media’s failure to report on almost unimaginable excesses occurring in academia, CHOP, what used to be known as the free press or other Leftist enclaves means that those pronouncing that a “normalcy” and “return to respectability” will accompany any Democrat power are deluding themselves.

There is absolutely nothing new or insightful in what I just wrote. As I said, I’m beginning to find my own thoughts tedious. I enjoy engaging with you through the comments section and I appreciate ZOOM get-togethers with family and friends, but I am more than ready to meet you again in person and feel the energy and vitality kindled by being around large groups.

The end of the month is coming.
July 1st – and increased prices – are coming.
If you’ve been meaning to buy…now’s the time.

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41 comments

I am having the same issues Susan. Mine are compounded because I do not have a spouse. It has been 21/2 months since I had a hug from anybody. The phone conferences have been difficult. Decisions that could have been made in minutes in one meeting now take hours over several meetings. Zoom is better than phone but Zoom does not replace touch. That is the only new thing I have. Nobody seems to be talking about the dangers of lack of physical touch.

Susan Lapin says:

I know a virtual hug isn’t the same, but I’m sending one anyway, Gerry. I absolutely agree that we have not begun to deal with the repercussions of loneliness and lack of physical touch.

Flayer says:

Not to mention a simple smile at a stranger. Shopping at Costco the other day while wearing my mandatory mask made me feel like an robot. No normal facial expressions, just perfunctory muffled grunts through the mask. Eye contact seems soulless.

Art Carnrick says:

I’m with you… the only exciting thing I look forward to is an up day in the stock market. Though also a bit of an introvert, I’m also a guitar player. The restaurants and steak houses are opening up; I now get to show up and play anything from Bach to Beatles while keeping my head down… and then they pay me… much more exciting than the news cycle… Thanks for sharing your thoughts…

Susan Lapin says:

How lovely to have a side-line that can bring you pleasure now, Art.

yaffa kaplan says:

hello,
your insight is so similar or exact to mine!!
What i would like to add is at least the President is aware and talks about what is going wrong when other presidents decided to say nothing at all or bring the blame on the people like obama did. places are reopening and norm is somewhat coming back! we now know the agenda that is in the works from the left and and the sleeping people are awakening.. future looks scary but hopefully Trump will as well get stronger as he non stop being attacked from all sides. to keep good thoughts and spirits is highly necessary!
love your insights and the way you bring it out to the world.

all the best!

yaffa kaplan.

Susan Lapin says:

Yaffa, I do not know how President Trump goes on day after day with all the hatred and dishonest attacks beamed at him. I did think it important to be able, as a supporter of his, to acknowledge my disappointment, but if I could, I would “vote early and vote often” as they say.

Helen Doughty says:

Hello Susan,
Well said. Ditto.
Wishing you and everyone vigorous health and a robust mindset.

Susan Lapin says:

Helen, I will work on rejuvenating. Hope you do too.

Jeremy R says:

How refreshing! Sometimes it is just enough for someone to have the courage to point out the obvious. Thank you.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for writing, Jeremy.

Lyna says:

{{{HUGS!}}} for you, and all of us that really miss the real thing.

Susan Lapin says:

Amen, Lyna.

Bill says:

So much in Book of Proverbs is in our laps.
There is a solace in coming here . I to am an introvert ( retired) and a bit of a recluse.
So there are those multipliers in my life, but we do need to have those social connections . I enjoy reading here what intellectual, intelligent and truly wise people write and respond here . Those whom we turn to for news are getting to be repetitive ,as we’ve been reminded. Do we need to rediscover, for a time what the frontiersmen , pioneers and the early missionaries ( do to cultural and language barriers)experienced ? A honing of whatever is good , profitable ,pure and wholesome within us .Our dear Susan, I understand that you’re feeling a tediousness , from the burden ( not a negative one) you carry to write to us .Please be encouraged by those who you encourage each time you post something!
We truly need one another, maybe being innocently jostled in a crowd isn’t such a bad thing.
May each one be refreshed by the “Source” of Elijah‘s brook so long ago .

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Bill. I think others have been feeling the frustration for weeks now that just hit me a bit more this week.

Deborah says:

Susan, I appreciate your insight. May I add a deep concern of mine? The children. From my second grade students who disliked missing school and time with their friends to my young grandsons who couldn’t see their grandparents and didn’t understand why, children have suffered. They need social interaction. They crave human touch. Zoom? FaceTime? Poor substitutes for human interaction. Now it appears schools here in Washington State will require masks for staff and students. And don’t forget to socially distance! In some ways, that may be even worse. How can you require young children to wear masks and stay away from their friends? Thank you for allowing me to share my frustrations. God bless you.

Susan Lapin says:

Deborah, having students and teachers in masks is a losing proposition. Asking small children not to touch each other is ridiculous. Many, many more parents have to take back their children and choose for themselves which friends their children can safely play with.

James L Lynch says:

I fear what is coming down the road because of the indoctrination of students. My fear is not just for us, but our children and grandchildren. Trying not to listen to news or read some articles in the newspaper. Hopefully Rabbi and Susan will find ways to cheer us up in otherwise gloomy times. Thanks for all you do.

Susan Lapin says:

James, you are the biggest hope for your children and grandchildren. You must have a relationship with them that has them willing to listen to you.

Shawn Ross says:

Am I the only one tired of words? I feel like a democrat waiting for the government to do something and at the same time I have no interest going to prison. We’re paralyzed in this box. I do t want our elected officials talking and I want them to start doing things about the people that are doing our country harm. I hear ted Cruze and Barr blaa blaa blaaing and not seeing any action.

Susan Lapin says:

Shawn, within the limitations of law (which it seems only limits one side), what actions would you like to see taken? Don’t miss what is not being reported, such as the federal judges being confirmed and the process of pursuing the bad actors in the fake Russian accusation.

Susan Gilliland says:

I feel just like you Susan. It has grieved us just hearing comments from naive neohews in the name of Christian or Jesus love. One even compared Robert E Lee to Hilter😔 seeing the uneducated out there being barbarians and tearing our country apart has been very disheartening. Would love a visit with yall! Praying for you both

Susan Lapin says:

Susan, it seems that many tearing down and defacing statues have no idea of the history of the person behind the statue. Higher education has achieved its goal of producing an ignorant generation that is easy to manipulate.

Bill says:

Isn’t that a solemn truth about those who have a modern day “education “. A classical education and a contemporary education are worlds apart . One contemplates Homer, Socrates and Shakespeare. The other , their screen saver, how many pixels on the screen and how many recycled water bottles were used to make the smart phone case .

Ted Smith says:

HOPE is vitally important right now. It is vital to us as individuals, and it is vital to the nation. I see President Trump as trying to give us that as he keeps telling us that the economy is going to come back stronger than ever. May our Lord make it so!! I strongly feel that the diminishing of our hope is a major tactic of the Left. I believe they are using this “engineered” Covid crisis to demoralize us and “train” us us be compliant and walk in lock step with whatever they tell us to do. If they are successful in this endeavor they will have won. They will have learned that they can make us compliant in any and every area. We MUST NOT let that happen!! We must fight to maintain, strengthen and spread HOPE. Spread HOPE everywhere and to everyone. We must rekindle the spirit of the warrior in us. We must resist, nay, do battle with the Left – with the forces of evil. We can’t give up now. We don’t dare give up!! Stay strong, and HOPE in the Lord!

Susan Lapin says:

Ted, I think there is a great deal in what you say. I think the Left has been hoping and planning for failure and President Trump’s successes are their worst nightmares. Much better for them to have problems as the headlines than optimism.

Mary says:

Here’s hoping I can give you something for your boredom!

Have you never been in a situation where you found yourself outnumbered by those who disagree with everything you say? When you know every word out of your mouth – even something innocuous will be turned and used to defame you?

If you haven’t, you’re one of the fortunate ones.

When I look at our President, that is what I see. He can’t say anything without it being used against him by social media and the press.

It’s like he’s dealing with a mob of children throwing temper tantrums, demanding their way or else.

He’s been dealing with “OR ELSE” for his whole term.

As a parent, you know how hard it is to deal with one or two…..but hundreds?

Attacking you from all directions?

I also think that the protest situation would not be that horrific except all the usual outlets for entertainment have been shut down. What else do they have to do? It gets them out of the house and the media has given approval and is supporting them.

Day by day their demands are getting more and more extreme, again as a child does when it’s not getting it’s way.

President Trump is wise to let the state and local governments handle their individual situations.
How they handle their respective issues will shed much light on the politicians their citizens elected.

Anyway, just giving you food for thought!

I hope you keep writing! I love reading your musings.

Susan Lapin says:

Mary, I agree completely with you that the pressures on President Trump are unimaginable. My disappointment is that when he does give speeches, like the State of the Union, he influences people and I wish he were giving the equivalent of a “fireside chat” during these days.

Mark says:

Susan, I have had the same idea for some time. It actually is such an obvious idea that I’m surprised the White House hasn’t long since done something like it. The president could do a brief talk to the American people, weekly or monthly, in which he explains his thoughts on a particular issue, and what he is doing or is planning to do about it. If the networks and cable news channels won’t give him the time, then put them on YouTube and other websites. Indeed, he used to do exactly this, but apparently stopped. I just checked on YouTube, and the most recent one is from two years ago. One of my biggest criticisms of this White House, and indeed of most Republicans in general, is how poor they are at messaging. For the most part Republicans have better ideas, but they are inept at salesmanship—which is an odd irony.

Kristin Grose says:

Amen, amen, amen, Susan and to your readers whose sentiments reflect my own. Like Susan the social isolation hasn’t been a problem for me but God did not make us as islands and touch is as critical to the whole age spectrum. Tiny babies die without it. Watching the predictably exploitable top of the news stories and not knowing the truth of any one of them depresses the heck out of me. The President needs his inspiration to get out to his base and to attract that elusive 20% of undecideds. Social media, print and TV have slammed shut many avenues where he heretofore has been able to connect so if he is indeed leading how do we know?? I can’t even begin to think about losing this election. A heavy pall will hang in the air until November but God asks us to lean into our faith to see this herculean fight to its finish. God bless and God speed, everybody.

Hans Wiedreck says:

Ladies, come north to Alaska! We have too many single guys and too few single women.
I, too, have not had a hug in a long, long time.

Don Gladden says:

Please continue to hold the torch high, Susan. I depend on your musings weekly to bring some sanity to the surface.

Let HOPE ARISE!

Mark says:

Susan, I feel much the same as you, and I gain something from reading your thoughts about your experiences.

I am also somewhat of an introvert, even a semi-recluse. I live alone. I am used to spending a lot of my time alone, often preferring it. However, even I miss seeing friends in person. I miss physical touch. I miss sitting at a sidewalk table of a cafe and watching the world go by. I miss going to stores that have been closed for months. I haven’t had a haircut since February 1st, and wow, do I ever miss that! More concerning, I worry about the wonderful woman who owns the little hair salon I have gone to for years. She is an immigrant from Vietnam, and for years has worked seven days a week to make her business a modest success, and I wonder how she can hold on being closed for so long and whether she will lose everything.

I am sent into a quiet rage by the recent riots and the destruction of monuments and statues. However, I don’t think the latter is solely the result of ignorance, but the success of higher education over many years by Marxist professors, filling students’ heads with their philosophy. One of the central tenets of Marxism is to destroy everything from the past, history begins today, and to start everything over from scratch. It exasperates me that local and state politicians have been so weak and passive at responding to this threat.

A block and a half up the street from me someone has put a sign in a storefront window. (I don’t know who it is, it’s a storefront space but no longer a store.) The sign is large, and not an amateurish scrawl on a piece of cardboard, but an eye catching, professionally done sign saying, “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS.” Well, I believe in free speech, but that is a hard thing to pass by every day. I think I will write a letter and push it under the door. What else can I do, other than nothing?

I have used some of my extra time alone at home to improve my cooking skills. I am really enjoying that. And, coincidentally, just at the start of year, I decided to teach myself to make my own bread. I REALLY like doing that, and I’m getting better at it all the time! I’ll never go back to buying bread I don’t like.

I have a small sort of roof area outside my apartment—hard to describe, not really balcony, not really deck—which I can get to by climbing out of my kitchen window. I’ve always had some plants out there, but I am spending more time improving and adding to them. Also a birdbath, which the neighborhood birds seem to greatly appreciate and use all day for both bathing and drinking. Watching them gives me joy.

Finally (although I’m certain you have thought of this), because I am as weary and frustrated by the news as you are, I realized I can use some time to read books, new or old, that I have been meaning to get to, or re-reading ones I love, but usually put off doing for one reason or another.

I look forward to your weekly musings.

Mark says:

Hello, Susan.

You use the French word “ennui”, so I hope you won’t mind if I cite a passage in French about “ennui” from a rather devout individual, Blaise Pascal (Pensées, 1670 edition, chap. XXVI):

“Les hommes n’ayant pu guérir la mort, la misère, l’ignorance, se sont avisés, pour se rendre heureux, de n’y point penser : c’est tout ce qu’ils ont pu inventer pour se consoler de tant de maux. Mais c’est une consolation bien misérable, puisqu’elle va non pas à guérir le mal, mais à le cacher simplement pour un peu de temps, et qu’en le cachant elle fait qu’on ne pense pas à le guérir véritablement. Ainsi par un étrange renversement de la nature de l’homme, il se trouve que l’ennui qui est son mal le plus sensible est en quelque sorte son plus grand bien, parce qu’il peut contribuer plus que toute chose à lui faire chercher sa véritable guérison ; et que le divertissement qu’il regarde comme son plus grand bien est en effet son plus grand mal, parce qu’il l’éloigne plus que toute chose de chercher le remède à ses maux. Et l’un et l’autre est une preuve admirable de la misère, et de la corruption de l’homme, et en même temps de sa grandeur ; puisque l’homme ne s’ennuie de tout, et ne cherche cette multitude d’occupations, que parce qu’il a l’idée du bonheur qu’il a perdu ; lequel ne trouvant pas en soi, il le cherche inutilement dans les choses extérieures, sans se pouvoir jamais contenter, parce qu’il n’est ni dans nous, ni dans les créatures, mais en Dieu seul.”

If you prefer to have the passage in English, I will have to translate it for you myself, since the only English translation I can find online is based on a very different version of Pascal’s text. In any case, Pascal is saying here that boredom, which man regards as his greatest evil, is in fact his greatest good, since it forces man to set off in search of the only thing that can truly satisfy him, which is God. In this, I imagine that Pascal is echoing Augustine of Hippo, who wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Mary Gerow says:

Susan, thank you for your insight, always. Enjoy reading your wisdom. (Just in case you are not aware, I have heard that Zoom is owned and monitored by China.). Be blessed, in Jesus’s Name.

Paul says:

I understand completely, and I have had the same thoughts and feelings. I have absolutely wrestled with the same thing many times in the past. The thing that always relieves me of that same emotional elevator is to turn off all that noise. Bring out God’s Word and delve as deeply into that wonderful Word as I am able with prayer before and afterword, asking the Lord to speak to me from His Word. When turn off the worlds noise and listen for that Still Small Voice I find rest and shalom. That is always what brings me back to what’s really important.

Julie says:

I feel the same way. As I live near CHOP, I feel the sadness of being in a city with officials who have lost control of rebels run amok. I finally felt human going to a beach a few nights ago. There were smiles showing as folks were far enough apart to not have to wear our mandatory masks. Driving home, reality set in as the major freeway was closed, all cars forced to take a tolled detour, while the I-5 was cleared for nightly allowed violence . Up at CHOP, a murder would occur 7 hours later.

Susan Lapin says:

Julie, years ago already, the “authorities” in Seattle allowed protesters to close down the freeway. Ambulances? Fire trucks? Too bad. And certainly no concern for businesses or people other than the bullies. It is incredible how easily bullied supposed leaders are. Or worse, they approve of mayhem.

Betty says:

All these horrendous events tend to overwhelm us and make us feel small. However, we are alive for such a time as this.

What you and Rabbi share leads to a life of peace and joy. You all have been doing your part to point to the better path for many years.

Don’t be discouraged. The Lord is fighting this battle for us and we are winning. If we were losing, there wouldn’t be such a battle for control.

Hope R. says:

Joe Biden may not be the answer. I understand that some politicians may want to include all Americans with equality but giving Gays the right to marry is not the right thing to do. He will not get my vote.

Susan Lapin says:

Hope, I don’t even think that Joe Biden gets the question.

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