Jackie Kennedy Onassis, for whom the reservoir was named in 1994, used to run on the 1.58-mile track. Photo by Caitriana Nicholson from Beijing, China, Wikimedia Commons
Culture Spotlight

The gift of boredom

Words of wisdom for these days of doing nothing.
Nelson Navarro | Apr 19 2019

If you have nothing or feel oppressed, you do dream of the grand life, the yacht included. 

Jackie O. had all that and just wanted to work. (From 1975 to 1994, she was a book editor; first at Viking, then at Doubleday). It struck me that the starting salary of her desk job was $200 a week and income tax had to be paid. My first reporter's job roughly in the same period was lower, $170, but I was nobody and didn't inherit $23 million. My humbling salary I was thankful for, it kept body and soul together. 

Jackie was tired of being defined as trophy for this rich someone and this famous somebody and she wasn't expected to work, just smile and be pretty. She had a small office, lined up for morning coffee and the Xerox machine. I remember she hailed taxis from the curb and she jogged daily around the Reservoir. So democratic and chic. 

Jackie Kennedy on Landmark Express, April 1978. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

 

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But what I and many others in love with the magic of words and images would have done to whip out the books she did, especially one of the first about the great Russian style of life. She made headlines and the money kept growing. 

What grabbed me most was the stubborn fight against irrelevance and the curse of boredom. Life can be one long, dragging crawl to the grave. That I also dreaded as the common fate of all mortals. Politics? Alas, it made you drool and smirk and belch. 

Fortunately for some poor but lucky souls, New York was then and always a cornucopia of what ever touched your curiosity and passion. Nobody had to know and their approval you didn't bother about. Personal life was personal and it's you who defined and made it meaningful. 

I went through the gamut, suffered fools and at times felt insane. Yet quitting never entered my mind. 

Someone older and wiser told me you simply bloom where you're planted and that's that. Keep writing, it's tough but liberating discipline. Take to heart that there are no boring stories, just boring writers. In your autumnal years, there will be people who'll realize you somehow amassed a hoard of beautiful memories, some worthy of print. 

And even you will be astonished.