Our theme for the month of October was selected by readers and is a format challenge: write a post completely in dialogue.

“Do it.”

“Five more minutes.”

“Why? You need to do it anyway, just get up and do it and then it won’t be hanging over your head.”

“Look, it’s 8:57. I’ll do it at 9:00.”

“Fine.”

“Oops, it’s 9:07. Guess we’re waiting until 9:15.”

“You always do this.”

“I don’t always do this. I’m just tired right now. I need another minute to clear my head.”

“Lying there and reading twelve different takes on whatever happened today in Washington is not going to clear your head. That is literally the opposite of clearing your heard. Stop doing this to yourself and just do the thing.”

“In a minute.”

“Are you even processing what you’re reading? You’re scrolling way too fast to actually be thinking about what those articles are saying.”

“I am thinking about them.”

“So what do you think? What’s your opinion? Yours, not the regurgitated composite talking points of all 300 articles you’ve read this week.”

“Look, lay off, I’ll do the thing at 9:30.”

“How much content have you consumed in the last twenty-four hours?”

“Oh stop, it’s not, like, bad stuff. Right now I’m reading about gender-equal snowplowing in Sweden.”

“Avocados are healthy, but you don’t eat twelve of them.”

“I’ll do it at 9:30.”

“I know what this is.”

“See, they clear snow from the sidewalks and bike lanes first, and only then go to the highways…”

“You’re don’t want to be alone with your thoughts.”

“Oh, not this again.”

“That’s your problem! Because when you turn off all this input,you’re left alone with yourself, and you’re scared you won’t find anything interesting there. So you look in other places, you stuff yourself so full of interesting things that you can barely separate one new idea from another.”

“If you don’t shut up, I swear I will go to Buzzfeed and read every single article on their homepage.”

“Do the thing.”

Eventhe ones about the Kardashians.”

“We’ve been arguing about this for almost an hour. You could have finished the thing by now. You could have learned a song on your guitar, or made lunch for tomorrow. You could have gone for a run, you could have looked at those French verbs.”

“Oh look, ‘19 Random Tumblr Posts that will Leave You Shook!”

“Kate, why.

“Okay, I know, I know. I’ll do the thing. Let me just look for a podcast.”

“You don’t need a podcast!”

“I don’t want to be bored.”

“Why not?”

“So you admit this is going to be boring.”

“What’s wrong with being bored?”

“It’s just, like… I’m not… I mean, when I could be…”

“What do you mean when you say ‘bored’?”

“Let me quick look up the etymology.”

“Drop the phone. You know you’re never bored for more than a few minutes.”

“I’m not?”

“No! Because when you actually let your mind rest, it starts coming up with all sorts of new connections. You remember things. You create things. You start scribbling lines of poetry in meeting notes.”

“I can be creative and bored at the same time.”

“And when you actually let yourself be bored for long enough, there’s a point where you break through even that and become still. That’s where personal reflection happens. That’s where spiritual growth begins.”

“Fine.”

“Finally.”

“I was always going to do the thing. You didn’t have to hound me like that.”

“Sure.”

“I can hear the woman next door sweeping. Do you hear that? Hard bristles against her terracotta patio. You wouldn’t think the sound would travel so far, but I hear it as if it were right outside my window. I don’t think about it so much now, but I know one day years from now, I’ll hear something similar and be transported back here, back to this house in this neighborhood in this city in this country.”

“Keep going.”

“For a few weeks every year I wake up to the bangof ripe mangoes falling onto our roof and rolling into our backyard. Those mornings I pick up sticky, only half-smashed mangoes and eat them over the sink. They’re as sweet as honey, though the stringy parts catch in my teeth worse than celery. When I run water over my hands, our water pump kicks into gear and roars. A bird squawks, maybe startled by the noise. The counter is littered with the remains of a roommate’s hurried breakfast. The kitchen smells like coffee. It’s still early, but the sun is already high.”

“This isn’t so hard, is it?”

“I’ve been taught my whole life that to be successful is to be active, always trying new puzzles or challenges, and always looking for new, I don’t know, material to take on. When I was younger I devoured novels, stacks of them, adoring them but not remembering them. I half-learned half a dozen musical instruments. My whole family collected hobbies, barely starting one thing before our interests pulled us in another direction. I never learned to value being still.”

“And?”

“I guess I should, sometimes. Be still, I mean.”

“You did it. It’s done.”

“I could have done this a few hours ago.”

“Remember that next time.”

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