This summer I decided to tackle a new quest. I am on a mission to discover the eighth or perhaps ninth — depending on the sensitivity of your wow factor — Wonder of the World.
Is it possible in today’s wired world someone with a smartphone or smart TV can mutter the words, “I’m bored and have nothing to do in life,” and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt when off work or out of school?
Several of my family and friends tell me they are the wonder I am searching for because they have been bored at least once in just this past week. I performed a little further investigation into these contenders for the wonder title and discovered none was absolutely bored in life or had absolutely nothing to do.
Sure, they can claim to be bored with specific smartphone social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram or surfing the Internet to locate the latest piano-playing cat, cutest-ever-kid video, or stupid human tricks. They can be bored with games, books, virtual reality sites, festivals, music, videos, carnivals, etc., but not life.
One told me she was so bored all she could do was conduct constant surveillance of her smartphone so she would be ready to reply instantly to text messages or cute emojis. I reminded her staring at a phone screen and tapping it was doing something.
I cannot believe in this day and age how people still complain about being bored and having nothing to do. Let’s see, there is the Internet, WiFi, smartphones, smart TVs, activity and social apps by the hundreds, satellite radio and television programming, music downloads, computer games by the millions, DVDs and shows on demand plus enough cable television channels to make even Dr. Sheldon Cooper grateful.
And that’s just on your modern cellphone and television. Some of us still go old school to beat supposed boredom with books, board games, singing, coloring, magazines, shooting marbles, skipping rope, puzzles, baseball card or stamp collecting, playing hopscotch, dancing, crocheting, writing letters, horseback riding, whittling, walks in the park, fishing, playing a round of Hoosier euchre, performing air guitar, model trains, boating, dolls, skiing, shopping, telling lame jokes, doodling, sitting in a front porch swing, solving The New York Times crossword puzzles, going outside to play or talking face-to-face with another human.
Boredom is just a way of thinking. So, if you are feeling a smidgen of monotony, sample the zillions of things to do in today’s society or, better yet, avoid this so-called boredom by becoming curious about the world surrounding you.
Those who do grumble about being bored need to be thankful for one fact: There is no time machine to send you back to the days before smartphones, smart TVs or any other electronic entertainment choices.
Imagine if you were somehow transported back to Aug. 17, 1919 and forced to adjust to the boredom busters of that day offered in the newspaper pages of the Vincennes Commercial.
On that lazy Sunday afternoon, you might dawdle downtown to the Lyric Theatre for the latest Vaudeville bill. A dime buys you a seat to watch the Colonial Minstrel Maids all-girl revue, Aline the girl with the hoops, Blanch Bishop singer of southern songs, and Benard and Grey lady contortionists.
You might take a Vincennes street car out to Lakewood Park for a free balloon ascension, dancing, and lunch and supper food specials. Stay until dark and you may watch the free, two-reel silent film entitled, “The Paymaster’s Son.”
At least five neighborhood movie theaters offer some of the top silent feature flicks.
The Moon Theater is showing “The Never To Return Road” and “As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us” and the Star Theatre “The Secret Formula” starring Crane Wilbur, Octavia Handworth and Harrish Ingraham. The classy Princess Theatre has scheduled the great Warren Kirugan in “Quicksand” plus two one-reeler comedies and the latest news.
I’m sure many area residents spent that day at home relaxing, eating a big Sunday meal while later surrounding the family piano for a singalong. They might gather around the family Thomas Edison phonograph to play the latest songs of the day and perhaps a record of the Bert Williams Broadway hit, “O Death, Where Is Thy Sting,” written by Vincennes native Clarence Stout Sr.
Perhaps you decide all that is okay but plan to save your pennies to attend the Aug. 25 Vincennes performance of the Carl Hagenbeck and the Great Wallace Shows Combined Circus. The grand street parade is free but you’ll need at least two bucks to see more than 50 clowns, three herds of performing elephants, 48 champion horseback riders, a “zoological paradise” and the “pretty, bewitching” Tasmanian Sisters acrobats.
Of course, there is one more option for either 2019 or 1919.
No law — civil, criminal or natural — states you must be doing something all your waking hours. I have always believed doing absolutely nothing does not equal boredom if you are doing it on purpose, perhaps to think, solve a problem or just take in the solitude to refresh the soul.
Speaking of purpose, my hunt for the eighth or ninth Wonder of the World goes on and is anything but boring.
Doug Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.