In defense of boredom...

I don’t know how old you are, but I’m old enough to remember when it was okay to be bored.

That makes me sound incredibly old. I’m really not, I swear. But I am part of one of the last generations that was raised (mostly) without the technology we’re surrounded by today.

We were fortunate enough to have a home computer when I was a preteen. I don’t even pretend to remember where it came from or why we had it, I assume it’s because I was homeschooled and we needed Lotus Notes for… something.

I mostly used it to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

I remember it sitting in the dining room. This comically oversized CRT monitor on top of the desk, the tower tucked as neatly as possible underneath.

As I got older I would use it more, eventually learning to build computers and write code. In my late teens I’d spend hours chatting with friends on AIM or learning to “build websites” on Geocities.

But that came later. So did satellite tv, cell phones, and Facebook, fortunately.

Those technologies showed up at different times in my life, and in varying degrees of usefulness. Yes, we as a family had a cell phone when I was 12. The one in my Mom’s car sat in its own big rectangular bag in the front seat and required a not insignificant amount of arm strength to remove from the base so you could answer it. It might have actually been attached to the base with a cord, come to think of it.

I’m starting to feel much older than I did a few paragraphs ago.

Here’s my overall point, before I start telling you about walking a mile to visit my childhood friends, barefoot, uphill both ways.

My point is that I grew up when your options for Saturday afternoon entertainment, once Looney Tunes had gone off the air, were reading a book or playing outside.

I remember what it feels like to be bored.

Just barely.

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I remember when it was okay to sit in silence with another person, because eventually one of you would think of something to say or do.

Now my body has an immediate physical reaction to even the slightest boredom or awkward silence. I find myself reaching for my phone during every commercial break. I notice myself and people I love missing opportunities to connect because one or both of us desperately needs to check Facebook or answer a text.

It makes me sad. And honestly, scared.

I find myself lately craving something like silence. But not from everything, just from the noise. The mindless chatter. The superficial highlight reels and amped up angst.

I find certain words spinning around in my brain, just waiting for me to catch on and find a way to anchor them into my life for real.

Slow down. Analog. Deeper. Connection.

I want my relationships to be genuine and honest.

I want the content I create and send into the world to flow from my soul, not be dragged out with a sense of obligation because content marketing is just what you do.

I want time to be bored, to make new connections, notice new ideas, hear my own intuition.

Time to draw, write, connect with inspiration, or not do a damn thing.

A lot of us have drowned our intuition, our feelings, our fears behind the constant scrolling.

We can’t just sit and be.

We need to fill the silence instead of listening to it, numb our pain instead of feeling it, research our problems to death instead of feeling the next right step and just taking it.

We need a chance to be bored so that we can hear our own GPS. We need real messy action more than staged Insta shots.

I don’t want every minute of every day to be filled. Whether with noise, plans, mindless scrolling, or even entertainment. My brain needs time and space to find it’s own ideas, to create more than I consume.

And I feel like maybe yours does too. In fact, I’m pretty sure we all do.

I’m not saying I know how to get there, just that I’ve got a feeling what I’m working towards.

My challenge to you is try to listen a little more and consume a little less. Even just every now and then. Watch for chances to be bored, then just… be.

What are you craving more of in your life? What do you want less of? What are you doing to get there?


Lena ElizerComment