The Gifts of Boredom.
February 27, 2015
“Do you ever get bored?”
That was the question posed earlier this week by our naturopath. My husband and I had scheduled a joint visit to talk to her about our shared sleep issues. Getting a full night of rest is essential. A necessity which was eluding us on a regular basis, resulting in lowered spirits, less focus, and lack of energy.
Tom jumped right in, answering enthusiastically, “I NEVER get bored.”
Now, he is curious by nature which is a damn fine attribute to have. Whenever he has a bit of time available, there is more than enough to capture his imagination. He has a never ending list of things he wants to read, listen to, watch, learn and try.
I on the other hand, do get bored, so was pleased when our naturopath smiled and said that I was on the right track. However, when boredom strikes, I don’t let it linger, but rather fill the void as quickly as I can with something akin to mental and emotional novocaine. Binge-watching my current series. Watching a favorite movie. Again. Grabbing whatever book is on the night stand and reading a chapter or two when I am actually going to stay awake for more than a page. Even taking on a wonderfully fulfilling project, like say, deep cleaning the refrigerator, WHILE catching another episode of Suits.
Neither approach was helping us glean gifts that boredom has to offer. Both deny us of the opportunity to explore that which can only be discovered in the gap between doing ‘this’ and ‘that’. The point our naturopath went on to make is that when we don’t allow ourselves to just settle down and be… bored… we also never allow ourselves to re-fill that which gets depleted through constant activity, stimulation, and non-stop information. Doing that over time leads to chronic stress, which hides quietly under our radar screen, keeping us from sleeping soundly and living fully.
What gifts does boredom bear?
Boredom is a chance to bore down, dig in, and plumb my own depths.
Boredom invites me to mine my own earth to discover new treasure.
Boredom offers me a tunnel through the old, and into the new.
Boredom leads me off of the map of the known and into the wilds of discovery.
Boredom pushes me out of “Been there. Done that.” to “Go there. Try that.”
Boredom throws out the stale, making room for the fresh.
Boredom opens the lid of that which I would rather not think about, feel or look at in my own life. A lid which I work hard to keep under lock and key, forgetting that looking squarely at what is true is the key to my greatest freedom and fullest life.
So how might we accept the gifts that boredom offers?
When boredom strikes, rather than run for the nearest distraction, might we sit down and settle in? What if we just listen quietly and notice what bubbles up? What if we keep a Boredom Journal and track our trajectory from here to there? What if we mine the treasure of our boredom and put it to good use? What if we use what we learn to mend what is broken in our lives?
What if the willingness to be bored is the key to living a life that is anything but boring?