Monday, November 26, 2012

The Doldrums...

"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," Milo laments. "[T]here's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing."

Today, I don't feel like doing anything at all. Like Milo in his toy car, I am stuck in the Doldrums, the place where all motion stops, all energy fizzles, all thinking sleeps. Oh, I have a lot of things I should be doing - grading the stack of papers next to me on the dining-room table (the desk I should have put in my office a few months ago is still on the porch), prepping lessons for tomorrow, getting a shower. Instead, I find myself twiddling my thumbs and thinking about Milo.

Milo is the 10-year-old protagonist of Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, a boy so bored with life that he finds nothing appealing. And hence, he does nothing (which perhaps is part of my problem today - I find no task appealing, therefore I don't tackle any of them). Until, that is, a random tollbooth suddenly appears in his bedroom with a map to the Lands Beyond. Breaking the spell of his boredom, the tollbooth transports him to a land of wonder and mystery, where words are spun into magic. Milo's companion throughout much of the adventure, for example, is "Tock," a "watchdog," part clock, part man's best friend, who helps Milo out of sticky situations. Digitopolis (the town where words are sold in the marketplace), the Humbug, the Princesses Rhyme and Reason, King Aziz the Unabridged, the Sea of Knowledge, the Castle in the Air. The book is chock-full of plays on words that delight adults as much as they do children.

I suppose what I learned from this book oh so many years ago is that you only get somewhere by moving. By getting up off your tush and making your limbs move in some direction, it doesn't really matter what direction that is. Boredom is funny that way. Being bored breeds getting bored-er.

So ... off into the world I go. For my readers, who know the way. ~Alice

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