Thursday, March 12, 2015

In Praise of Boredom

In Praise of Boredom

As a little boy, whenever The Songwriter ran out of activities to occupy his time he would run to his father emitting the universal whine of the bored child… “Daddy, what can I dooooo?”.  This plaintive inquiry was always met with the same unique reply.  His father would raise his hands over his head and with his two index fingers pointing skyward he would say, “Do this!”, as he waggled those fingers and made vociferous beeping noises.  This response always garnered a laugh or two, even as it showed the young Songwriter that not only did no one ever die from boredom but it just might not be as bad a state to in be in as he first thought.  

These days, no one is ever bored.  I sat at a red light the other afternoon and looked around me.  Every single person I saw, be they driver or passenger, was looking down at their phone.  No longer do we stare into space in the check out line at the market, or daydream whilst waiting our turn at the bank.  We check our phones as we wait for the waiter to bring us our menus at a restaurant and again as we wait for our food.  From doctor’s offices to airplanes, from football games to the car pool line, no one seems to let their minds off the leash of their phones anymore.  

 When we did we begin to view boredom as such a dreadful thing to be avoided at all costs?  What would the shelves of our libraries look like if great minds had never been allowed to wander?  And how can great minds wander if they are never bored?  To let one’s thoughts lift up and leave through the window, with neither schedule or map to consider……to stare out to that sweet spot of middle distance where all that exists is breezy nothingness…. these are the times when the shy thoughts appear, those schemes and ideas too timid, too ephemeral to take shape in the glare of modern life.  

Last week, in those few remaining vestiges of winter before Spring arrives with her list of new chores, I had a spot of surgery I had been putting off for awhile.  It was my plan to get a lot of reading and writing and knitting done during the couple of weeks of my recuperation… my to-do list was long.  But when I came home the next night, though all went perfectly,  I found I was too tired to concentrate on much and found myself, frankly, bored.  After tapping my fingers on the arms of my chaise for an afternoon, I decided to just enjoy it.  Who said I had to accomplish anything over the next week or so?  Would the Earth slip from her axis if I didn’t?  

So I’ve let my thoughts drift and waft, hither and yon and before I knew it, boredom had opened the door to daydreams.   All in my head I’ve designed cottages beside riverbanks and castles on mountainsides.  I’ve braided Edward’s fur.  I’ve sailed out through green seas to small islands where I’ve spent the afternoon lying in the sunshine.  I’ve dodged fat raindrops on the streets of Istanbul.  I have not checked my email, nor the front page.  I have been lazily, deliciously bored and nothing bad has happened.  I just might try this more often. Who knows what it might lead to.
To read more about the benefits of boredom, check out the podcast at New Tech City.  They are currently championing boredom and all the many ways it can lead to brilliance! 
 Take a look and a listen, HERE!


  1. You've dealt with Edwards fur ? That's not boredom that's a Sisyphean task !

  2. Pamela I agree with you, there is almost no one I know who is comfortable with just "being". It is sad really to see how one is expected to have every moment of the day filled with activity. I find reading is my best way to relax now and feel really good about it!

    The Arts by Karena

  3. I really don't believe you were bored; you have too many interesting interests. Okay, maybe for five minutes but that doesn't count. Anyway, just in case you want something sweet to read here's a book that you (and your readers) might enjoy.

  4. Oh rats, I don't think the book link came through. The title is First Impressions, A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett.

  5. Pamela,
    I've only recently learned to relax enough to be bored. Though never formally diagnosed, I'm sure I have a little case of ADD. I've always put it to good use by being super industrious and managing to get a great deal done in a small amount of time. Still, I knew there was something to the whole relax/daydream/be bored state of mind and I finally permit myself some time each week to do just that. It's wonderful and I've found I enjoy each day so much more. I'm headed over to the podcast. I wish you a speedy recovery with new ideas born out of your boredom! :-)

  6. Yes Pamela, I think one has to get in the right mood to enjoy boredom - make oneself empty the mind of all the 'to do' jobs you just can't do at the moment, relax and let dreams and castles in the air take over.
    When we were small if we said 'what can I do?' then the answer in Lincolnshire was always the same 'run after one and catch two'.
    My mother would always find us a job to do - clean the silver cutlery, give the dining table a really good polish - we soon learned that te best way to get out of these jobs was never to admit to being bored.

  7. It's good that you are taking time to recover and enjoying it. I often use quiet times in the car, walking or swimming laps to plan my novels. Boredom is the mother of creativity.

  8. bored + could that be a thing that happens after you look at your phone? + READ + that would help.

  9. Love the photo; and I would love to see Edward with braids...


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