It’s a great tragedy to all, and a great injustice still, that a hero should go unsung into the depths. For this very reason, I find it my duty to make the case for boredom—that very menace, the bane of human intellect languishing in stagnation. So often do the hammers fall on boredom for its being some nameless nothingness, for its loathsome laziness. Then come tales of boredom and it’s demons, an insatiable potential for senseless and commendable acts; a young man shoots his classmates and the public wonders if maybe he had too much time on his hands. Slowly but surely an there comes an insipid suspicion that a lack of structure spells destruction.
It’s not all about the bloody headlines. Marching farther into the future, we find a society that obsessively looks to fill gaps of time, gaps of “nothing to do”, with arguably the very mindless of tasks. We see this in our work as job culture becomes shrouded in unspoken laws about the dangers of idle time. Time is money they say. The implications lay on thick: if we’re not busy, something’s wrong, someone’s a bad worker.
Consequently, our leisure culture suffers from the same vices. Built right into the very bones of leisure time comes the ruthless expectations of time efficiency–doing a lot is good; doing more is better. We not only have to work hard, but we must play hard as well, as the perks and penalties of competition begins to seep into every aspect of our lives. Compartmentalization has become a challenging concept in the minds which occupy modern culture; the sea waters which flood the entire hull of our lives do not yield to the hope of compartments with empty space, they don’t yield to those powers of buoyancy, but instead, they drown us completely.
Boredom has become one such phantom plague which chokes our humanity; it has become an insufferably enemy which dare not be named so explicitly. So, instead, we stay endlessly busy–even with ourselves. Alone time no longer exists, as in our minds we are always with others, always with task, and perpetually staving off that most horrid of inquisitions:
“what do I do now?”
I read somewhere that now, more than ever, are people consistently interrupted at work. This means to say that people are forced to juggle such tasks which demand their time sporadically. Most importantly, this indicates that time spent on any give task is often split and chopped up into smaller pieces so that, at best, it will be finished much later than supposed, or, at worse, its completion date becomes unknown. Imagine for a moment that people were allotted a substantial amount of uninterrupted time to complete some specific task. What do you think would happen? That’s right; they’d probably get it done faster–and with better accuracy mind you. So, this entire premise is based on the idea that uninterrupted time is key for success in anything. For any truly meaningful fruition, we must dedicate a block of time to be used in its entire purity. Now imagine what such implications of time mean for vacation time.
As your boss, if I were to impose a schedule upon you which required that you work one day on and one day off, how would you feel about that? Some people might jump at the chance to never have to work two days in a row. But think instead of the true effects of having your leisure time essentially interrupted everyday. You really wouldn’t be able to relax. Anyone who’s ever worked a full time job knows that even two days off in a row isn’t really enough time to allow your mind and body to definitely detach from work culture.
What does this have to do with boredom? Well boredom is often interrupted with our incessant attempts to vanquish it by imposing upon ourselves those endless tasks of professional and personal success. We’ve become so paranoid about idleness that we’ve barely even dared to allow boredom any sufficient amount of time in which to reveal itself entirely. This is an important point as I believe that allowing boredom to bloom to its peak can invoke creativity and life inspiring experiences that can truly fill us with the kind of happiness we spend so much time trying to schedule for.
The point I’m trying to make is that boredom may not be all that bad of a thing. However, because we seek to quickly eliminate it by engaging in distractions, it’s difficult for many people to understand the true power of its nature. As much of our work and professional culture have branded the very idea of boredom as an undesirable state, most haven’t truly experienced it to its end. The moment we perceive boredom we whip out our smartphones, surf the web, text someone, binge drink, or find some other means to stave it off. Without allowing boredom to full mature in the mind, without letting it be in the moment, the most precious aspect of its makeup–that of time in its purity–is lost.
The begging stages of boredom are hard to weather while attempting to resort to our more familiar means of assuaging it. Yet, given enough time, creativity can bloom. Often I find that a two day weekend isn’t quite enough time to allow the purity of boredom to set in; it usually takes a day or two more than the weekend allows, because most weekends are packed with plans diverted during the week due to either work time or lethargy from work.
Some of my best and most creative ideas have come out of forcing myself to withstand boredom, to quiet down and allow that which lies inside my mind to grow louder and well up inside my being. So I challenge you to give boredom a chance; it’s not quite the enemy we’ve all made it out to be.