Craving Balance

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“His ears were made of real rabbit fur, and beneath the fur, there were strong, bendable wires, which allowed the ears to be arranged into poses that reflected the rabbit’s mood — jaunty, tired, full of ennui.” Kate DiCamillo in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I hunch over the steering wheel, or the sink, or the weedy garden. I bend into a pose that would indicate I carry the weight of the world, when I carry only the concerns of my household and my little family. Why does the small feel so very heavy? I am tired of tasks. I am tired of lists occupying my creative spaces. I am tired of feeling like creating is a luxury, rather than a necessity. When I sat down to write this morning, I found nothing but a heap of single letters scrambled up, lying in corners. One word escaped, and I bent into the curve of it. Ennui.

ennui:a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom

Have you ever felt it? For such an enchanting word, it has the potential to be deadly. It kills Charisma. Joy. Imagination. Originality. Ennui tells us nothing matters. It says, we are the check list. We are the tasks. We are the dead end job or difficult marriage or boredom magnet. Ennui comes from an imbalance, from having too much of one thing and not enough of another.

Sometimes ennui masquerades as laziness. It tells us we must vacate our everyday lives and fill the daily-ness of it, with a lounge chair on the beach and empty spaces on the calendar. Sometimes this is necessary, but often times, it’s not vacating we need. It is adding depth and richness back into lives that have been stripped down for the sake of productivity.

When ennui creeps into my days, I feel the urge to stop everything, when really all it calls for is a shift in my priorities. In my life, this looks like too much routine and not enough rhythm. Too many duties and not enough pleasure. I’m especially susceptible to ennui when I deny myself the enjoyment of art or when I refuse to take a Sabbath.

We are not the tasks. We are the heart and soul flaming behind them. What makes the world come alive in you and through you? My guess is, it’s not finishing a list of tasks or reaching the bottom of your laundry basket. It’s probably finishing a chapter of a good book, or taking a hike, or listening to music, or engaging in a life-giving conversation. My guess is the antidote to ennui is a combination of hope and velvet and sweet tea and laughter.

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Are you feeling an imbalance in your life right now? If so, what is one step you could take to correct it?

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  • I love Edward Tulane. And I’ve never taken the time to look up “ennui,” so I’ve already gotten an education today. You know I relate to this one, especially now. So many true priorities I’m trying to learn how to appreciate / not despise. So many soulful endeavors that deeply matter but can easily overtake my truest work if I let them. I find I need wisdom above all else.

    Good words that speak directly to my present struggle. Thank you!