Column, Opinions

Head Empty, No Thoughts: A Beginner’s Guide to the Bog of Bleh

Sometimes I wish I was a seer. 

It sounds strange to say out loud, but when I ponder over what the best superpower would be, I cannot help but think that knowing the future would be very convenient. 

You see, I have recently found myself feeling stuck in a bog of bleh—a void of lethargy and nothingness. In it, identity feels irrelevant, purpose seems excessive, ideals feel presumptuous, and goals are downright impossible. In a world driven by fast-paced achievement and productivity, the bog of bleh is an outcast island—one of those tiny specs on a map so small that nobody bothered to give it a name. 

For reasons beyond my comprehension, my brain decided to make the bog of bleh a semi-permanent place of residence, forcing me to find the words to explain the shapeless void that I find myself in. 

It’s not easy being a resident in the bog. For one thing, you find yourself wondering if there is a cost to living life at a slower pace than the world around you. Will it cost you friendships, opportunities, or personal growth? Will the world continue barreling forward at lightning speed and eject you from its orbit? Will you be stuck in the bog forever? 

With one existential question after another barreling around in my head, it’s not hard to guess why I wish I could see the future. It would be nice to have a bit of certainty in the bog—a fragment of factual future to cling onto and know that no matter what, everything will work out. If I had that certainty, maybe the bog wouldn’t be so bad. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case. As the obligations of my studenthood urge me to speed up, lock in, and become an academic weapon, I find that the life source that binds my bonds is begging me to come to a screeching halt. 

And so, to fall into the bog is to accept my inherent humanity—the parts of me that struggle to conform, mechanize, or intellectualize. Paradoxically, these are also the qualities that impair my productivity and capitalize on every opportunity that comes my way. That is precisely what makes the bog a trial of heroic proportions—it challenges my need to know the future while restricting my ability to anxiously achieve. 

If I were to be completely honest with myself, however, my need to know the future is not new. Even at my busiest and most productive state, I have never ceased to be concerned about what’s to come. To some extent, worry about the future is built into our world. The average person goes to high school to get into college. They then go to college to get a job. They get a job to make money for future investments. And then they invest in a home or a family to further our future standard of living.

At our core, we have been hardwired to orient our productive energy toward the future. Perhaps that’s why the bog of bleh can be a challenging space to occupy—its existence is radical. The simple act of settling in the marshland and letting yourself exist without fulfilling a purpose directly opposes the pace at which we are normally forced to live our lives. 

And yet, at the same time, it is so necessary. Much to my own surprise, the time I have spent in the bog of bleh has been much more restorative than I initially expected. What I originally cursed as nothingness has become a silent plain where I can hear my own voice. What I mistook for a void became filled with my dreams, hopes, aspirations, and self-belief. Perhaps the bog isn’t a desolate place of stagnation, but a safe pocket of stillness that gives you the space to remember your lust for life. 

Now, I look at the bog as an inevitable stage in the cycle of my own creativity. In this period, I have been moving slower, saying no to more responsibilities, spending more time inside, and basking in the stillness of my own company. In short, I am hibernating in the bog of bleh, enjoying a languid vacation away from the machinery of the mainland. 

If you find yourself struggling to pick up the pace, know that it’s okay. The bog of bleh is not as bad as it seems, especially when you are patient with yourself. While the superpower of foresight may not be possible, parting the tide of forced productivity and emotional suppression is pretty badass too.

February 18, 2024