“I’m bored.” Something I say to Ingrid from time to time, with her response being Charles Bukowski’s words “Only the boring get bored.” A sentence I sometimes repeat to my kids when they’re sitting around the house looking for some excitement.
Blaise Pascal has been quoted as saying “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” with comedian CK Lewis following this up with the punchline “I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”
They have a point. The virtue of patience sometimes feels lost in this fast paced world. Creating a lot of unwanted challenges. We’re bored so we watch TV. We’re bored so we drink and do drugs. We’re bored so we play video games or find new exciting partners. We’re bored so we start wars. All pointing to a lack of love of oneself.
When’s the last time you felt bored and just sat with the feeling? Explored it. Watched it. Became friends with it. Accepted that you were bored and didn’t look for a solution. What if you loved being bored? Wouldn’t that be the solution? “Easier said than done.” props to mind. With boredom being a state I personally find challenging to accept. I like to be on the move, creating, meeting new people, exploring new environments all the time. And while there is nothing wrong with these activities, we all need a recharge from time to time.
Spending time with my family on a small island this summer has revealed a bored shallowness that I’ve begun to explore, with this writing being part of that process. Now, when I feel the need to do something for the sake of just doing something, I sit with it for a moment. Observing the itchiness in my body and mind. And instead of scratching it, I’ve focused on it, diving into it, exploring the depth of the irritation. Revealing a deep love. A love of loneliness. Something more exhilarating and peaceful than surface excitement. More inclusive than surface connections.
Leading to today’s challenge. Next time you feel bored, don’t look for a solution. Instead, try to remember this Lao Tzu quote I may have shared with you before. It’s my hope it leads you from boredom into lovely loneliness before a much needed rest into our collective soul.
“Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?”