It was the second month of winter. Cold, very snowy, rather dark, and pretty much blue. I’d been living in my art-residency for over a month by that point, and I was already used to my new surroundings, new home, and new routines. Every little thing was new, every idea or experience was happening for the first time. Unlike my other art-residency experiences, I was absolutely clueless about where I was going, or what this trip was going to be like, which I believe only added up to the excitement of the journey. The first few days were taken up by my investigation, discovering my new location, the house, and the town, or I’d better say the village. Not much was going on. There was a captivating Gothic church in the center of the town, and a supermarket next to it. I found a cafe in front of the post office, but realized that the cafe was open only during the lunch hours, which was a bit disappointing. No bars, or someplace where I could go, take a break, or meet new people. I accepted the fact, and went with the flow.
Thankfully, my own schedule was very busy, lots of work needed to be done, and the time was limited. I was fully aware that a break was essential every now and again, and I needed to entertain myself one way or another, otherwise, I wouldn’t function as productively; I only let the time unfold my options. Taking walks around the area was actually quite fun, finding out about the different paths through the farmlands, but the weather wasn’t on my side most of the time; it was either too windy or too snowy. I met up with Domas, one of the directors of the organization, whenever he was around. Later, I was introduced to one of the local artists, Arturas, and his family. He was very friendly, just like anyone else that I’d met in the country, but unfortunately, we didn’t speak the same language, and the communication was limping. His daughter was our translator when they invited me over to their home, to show me his collections, and to chat about this and that. He was kind enough to take me to a few of his workshops in the neighboring towns; we managed to find someone to translate, to make the connection easier.
The cold winter was all I could find around me. Time passes by differently when you’re almost completely alone. The isolation slowed things down. The absence of the sun drained my energy, and made it much harder to bear with the cold. My habits were different in no time, and I started to feel like a different person. Perhaps I could tell you about the solitude some other time, but the point that I’d like to illustrate here is boredom. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of boredom. I strongly believe that it’s a necessity in life, and it’s been very underrated. It plays a big role, if not the major, in creativity and innovative thinking. The process is simple: you get bored, then, your brain comes up with new patterns to entertain you. The brain needs to be satisfied, stimulated, so once there’s no external element, it creates its own. Well, perhaps, I was exposed to boredom a bit too much, and my brain had run out of ways of amusing me, or was just tired of constantly providing fun and productive activities all the while; the brain also needed a break. The only available source of entertainment in this new world was the internet, good ol‘ World Wide Web.
Consequently, one of the habits that I’d developed was watching videos online, and watching them back to back. I guess it’s called binge watching. Sadly enough, “binge” is a very ubiquitous word these days. It’s discussed in many different contents, and the media can’t stop speaking about it: binge watching, binge eating, binge drinking, you name it! It is indeed a very irritating form of behavior for the person struggling with it. It’s even more disturbing to see it among the younger generations so frequently. I guess you wouldn’t understand the pain unless you’re deep into it. I’m not sure how I let myself develop this terrible habit, binge watching, but it was there, and I couldn’t find a way out. Sometimes I found myself browsing videos every few minutes, right in the middle of work when things became more challenging, or needed more thinking to progress. Sometimes I even convinced myself that I’d worked enough, and I needed a “break“, so that I could watch something online. To be fair, not all the stuff that I watched were junk, some of them were actually quite useful, contents that I could learn a thing a two, such as documentaries, interviews, talks, discussions, critiques, and researches on subjects that I was curious about. The rest of them, however, were trash, perhaps only to keep my mind entertained, which after a certain point, wasn’t even entertaining anymore. I was watching them blindly, without even understanding what I’d just watched. They were only videos to fill up my time, to numb me from my reality, the fact that I was stressed about my life, anxious about the future, bored, and restless because I kept procrastinating everything by watching those videos.
I believe it was another cooking show that I was watching, can’t remember really, one of those formats where the charming chef is making something in the test kitchen, and ends the video with a funny and inviting comment about the food he’d just taste tested. I had already picked a video from the suggestion bar on the right side, and I was ready for another chef to teach me how to cook a dish that I was never going to cook. But before I clicked on the video, I decided that I’d better enjoy it with a cup of tea. So, I went to the kitchen, made myself a cup of black tea, and put a couple pieces of cinnamon sticks in my cup. I returned to my laptop, and clicked away. The page turned white, and remained so for a few seconds. The connection might get slow every now and then, so I waited. The white color of the page turned into gray, and the message in which it informs you that there’s no connection showed up on my screen, the one with a small dinosaur on the side. I checked the connection on my computer, then made sure that all the lights on the router were green. They were, things were fine. A similar situation had happened before, and I was able to fix the connection by simply restarting the router. So, I did the same, and waited for the lights to turn green again. The light that was displaying the Wifi status turned red, and then yellow, and finally green. That had not happened before, and it possibly couldn’t be a good sign. However, I took the hint and appreciated the fact that the cooking show was interrupted; I got back to work. Although I have to admit, something on the back of my brain was buzzing, and a touch of panic started to grow: the internet was out.
I tried the router again the next morning, just to be certain that I was one hundred percent disconnected. Turned out I was! My brain now had to find other sources of entertainment. I didn’t have a phone either, so basically I was fully disconnected from the world outside. I should’ve let Domas know that the WiFi wasn’t working, perhaps he could call the company to see what the problem was. But how could I, was the question. I came up with a couple of ways. I could’ve knocked on Arturats’es door, and ask him to kindly call his daughter to let him know about my situation. I could write my message in big letters on a piece of paper, or a newspaper, and leave the note in front of one of the security cameras. I knew that Domas would check the cameras every once in a while.
But before taking any actions, I decided to go out for a walk, as I’d usually do, to get fresh winter air, and clear out my mind a bit. I couldn’t stop thinking about the internet, and what I would be doing without it. Luckily, a big part of my work wasn’t dependent on it, so I didn’t need to worry about that. Besides, I was old enough to have lived my teenage life without the internet. However, we had a computer in the house since I was twelve; dial-up connection was the only way to reach the World Wide Web. Well, the internet wasn’t that popular anyway. I mean, it was! It was a brand new sensation, and it was blowing everyone’s mind, but there was not much to do, especially comparing it with what we have today. Although, we had installed lots of games on the computer, and we’d rented films on CD. Generally speaking, the digital world was a big part of life as it is now. Screen and internet addiction is indeed quite new to the world. I had also lived in one of my apartment without the internet for a year and a half, simply because I couldn’t afford it. For about a year of that period, I was working in an agency, so I had access to the internet during the day. Later, after I quit my job, I lived in my apartment for over six months “internetlessly.”
I walked around the village, and took my phone out of my pocket here and there to see if there was any free WiFi available anywhere. I passed by the school, the church, the government building, the supermarket, the post office, and the cafe, but none of them offered free internet. A part of me was quite excited about the turn of events, having to live in a corner of nowhere without the internet. It wasn’t the end of the world, Domas would be back in a couple of weeks anyway. But at the same time, I was concerned that the boredom might kill my brain silently. There was a pile of work waiting for me to get done. I’d been postponing some work for over a year already, perhaps it was the time to sort them out. There was also a long list of films on my external hard drive waiting to be watched; I’d always made the excuse of the lack of time and concentration since I wanted to fully enjoy them. Thinking about it now, I barely watched one film per month, which was a shame; I preferred watching useless videos online to watch a piece of art. Being disconnected was going to gain me back an insane amount of time; it was a treasure. All the seconds and minutes that I was going to be wasting were now coming back to me. I was delighted, very excited about this good news. However, there were two main issues that I needed to fix before I got too ahead of myself. First: there was a very important email that I had to send by the next day; I had a deadline, and I’d managed to leave it to the last minute; I wasn’t proud of myself. My second concern was my mother; we talked every night. I could already see her giving me a ring in the evening, starting to panic as I wouldn’t answer the phone, freaking out by the second day, and losing it all by the third day imagining all the horrible things that might’ve happened to me. That certainly wasn’t good news, and I needed to fix that. I took a detour before I went back home, even thought it was windy and cold, just to let my brain concentrate on the matter; how could I possibly contact my mother, to let her know that things are in fact alright.