It’s not every day you hear a thirtysomething man utter that phrase into his air pods as he is investigating the isle of frozen vegetables.

Hearing him say this, I froze in my step, and we shared a moment of quick eye contact. He broke it off just as rapidly, uncomfortable that I had caught him in such a divulging moment. Or maybe just uneasy by the fact that I was staring at him.

I was just very surprised to hear such an honest statement at the supermarket. Usually when I walk around eavesdropping at the store, I hear people’s plans for the weekend, who slept with who, or that no one has time to pick up their kid from tennis practice. Little did I know that the supermarket at 9.30 pm turns into a bar at 2 am, and the skeletons start falling out of people’s closets.

His specific confession hit me so hard, because I’m also in a period where life is a bit monotonous. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with life, it’s just that I’m quite bored with the current situation, even though it’s temporary. Whenever I’m in one of these periods, I tend to escape into my dreamland of entertainment where life does not respond to me but happens to me, and only in its purest form of joy. But losing myself in unrealistic daydreams makes real life seem even more grey, and I start feeling stuck in a web of dissatisfaction and passivity.

Yet there’s a difference between passive daydreaming and active participation in one’s imagination. When I’m bored, I’m like a child finding herself with a deep urge to play in a garden with no friends and no toys. But instead of sitting down, wishing to be elsewhere, reality can become less dull when I dive deep into my mind to see if any ordinary tool – a broom stick, a brick or a hose – can somehow become something fascinating. In a Seinfeld-esque nature, I ask myself: was there something today, an event or a thought, that looks mundane on the outside, but could somehow turn into something interesting if I looked at it differently? And could I somehow create something out of that?

I bet that 30-year-old man with a monotonous existence didn’t expect to be the muse of my column. If he knew, maybe he wouldn’t think that his life is that depressing after all. Or maybe I would just freak him out again.

Dora Tolstoy columnist_nr3-Levien Willemse – Pauline Wiersema

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