For most of my life, this has been my favourite simile for near-terminal tedium, as in waiting for the bell to bring down the curtain on seemingly endless schooldays, or longing for agonizingly boring religious sermons, political speeches, business meetings and such to finally finish.
But these days, now that I find myself in both my dotage and the latest Covid lockdown, there are few experiences I find more exciting.
Watching my wife’s indoor pot of pet ‘Live Wire’ grass grow, for example, and being struck with wonder at the way the tiny, translucent flowers on its stems sparkle like droplets of dew in the sun streaming on it through the window.
Or witnessing the way that so-called Mondo Grass (actually grass-like Ophiopogon planiscarpus, for the information of botany buffs) sends up green shoots that turn so dark purple as to look almost black, and impatiently waiting for the spikes of lilac flowers that the tag it came with promises that it sends up in summer before they turn into black berries.
Or, on a much larger scale, scanning the lawn area at the house of my daughter and her partner for the first signs that the buffalo grass we planted there last year could be soon starting to awaken from its winter slumber and getting ready to celebrate the approach of summer.
Of course, as I’m sure many readers are itching to inform me, there are countless other more exciting sights to see and activities to engage in, even at my age and in the grip of lockdown-induced cabin fever.
But unfortunately, the most serious symptom of the cabin fever aka stir-craziness resulting from long-term lockdown is, at least for me personally, a downswing in mood. Complete with all the usual symptoms of depression, including sleeping too much, physical and mental listlessness and, most troubling of all, the dreaded anhedonia.
In other words, a virtually total loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, which in my case include a long list ranging from reading, writing and watching TV and movies to stimulating conversation and sex.
No point weltering in this slough of despondency or gulch of gloom, however, so I’ve been making concerted efforts to rise above it. Striving to raise my own spirits and by extension those of my family and friends by resorting to every trick in the book, from writing however much it’s against my will, through as much social interaction as possible during lockdown, to watching the Olympic Games with my wife.
Who herself is not as irrepressibly gay, in the ‘cheerful’ sense of the word, as usual, despite her heroic efforts to vaccinate herself against catching Covid-lockdown lassitude and poor attitude from me by treating herself to massive doses of online yoga and creative cooking.
But, superwoman as she is, even she can’t work miracles, so I’ve put myself onto as strict an anti-anhedonia program as possible. A self-prescribed course of treatments comprising not only writing and Games-watching, but also having (take-away) coffees with as many close cronies as I can manage to find wandering out on the streets, conversing with my very best friends online, and scrolling through Facebook for posts that I find uplifting in every conceivable sense, from the spiritual (as distinct from the religious, of course) to the sexual.
And when all that doesn’t work, as is all-too-frequently the case, my last resort is, to get back to where I started with this post, sitting around witlessly watching the grass grow, and seeing signs of its seeming to be growing faster by the day as the Sydney winter warms-up towards spring.
All the while, naturally, striving to avoid becoming re-depressed by witnessing the world’s grossness grow on every conceivable front from governments’ failures to control the Covid pandemic to their refusals to act seriously to combat climate change.