As a single mum, I often fight the desire to keep Wolf always entertained. Play dates, playgrounds, painting, the zoo, toy shops, books. It’s as if every moment has to be special and engaging and I recently rebelled.
While preparing lunch, I was reminded of my own childhood and the games that resulted from boredom… Branches that fell from our beautiful Jacaranda became microphones, weapons or wands. Old cardboard boxes transformed into chalkboards for when I taught my poor (younger) brother at “school”.
It wasn’t mum’s job to keep life interesting; it was her job to keep us fed, healthy, protected and warm. We had to come up with the rest.
Thinking about this lead me to examine how much I shun boredom, especially when I’m alone. We all seem to do it in some form; we’re all so busy (isn’t this the usual response to the question of, “how are you?” these days?). And even if this is genuinely the case, should we be scheduling in time for nothing? Is it really that absurd? Are we that addicted to activity and feeling virtually connected?
And then on the flip side, we all seem so ‘bored’ with aspects of life. I’m bored with television, with the music on the radio, with household chores; others are bored with their job or the monotony of daily routines. We’re consistently seeking new inspiration and greater distractions.
I was discussing this idea with a friend recently and was intrigued by his response:
“I don’t think it’s a matter of needing to be busy but a sense that I need to be productive all the time, almost like I’m timesheeting my personal life. When I went to Paris last year, I got the impression that they don’t focus as much on productivity, it wasn’t about accumulating things. Their coffee shops are always full, even in the middle of the morning. No wonder they’re known for romance and creativity – they actually have the time for it!”
So I started thinking about my friend’s comments and wondered whether boredom and inactivity actually fosters creativity. I can see how it could make sense as your mind would have the freedom to roam and explore ideas, free of activity and obligations.
I wonder what would happen if I approached boredom differently – if I courted it, accepted it and took it as an opportunity for my mind to freely wander.
I’m currently challenged to be ok with doing nothing. And to feel comfortable with turning off my blackberry on the weekends; with the social exposure I feel when I walk down the street without a phone or iPod; and then there’s the challenge of accepting boredom as a positive thing in my life that will hopefully inspire creativity and other good things.
Any thoughts or are you all too busy??