What If We Saw Boredom as Necessary?
I got what I asked for.
Yesterday I had a whole lot of it. No band practice at 7am followed by two services to play at. No advising the youth band after church. And since the new group we're meeting with ranges from 20 to 40 depending on the morning, there are less adults that I'm tempted to stop and talk with. Oh, and the 'commute' to our church is now a five minute walk. So scratch another 5-10 minutes each way depending on traffic.
I'm not paranoid about saving every minute possible. But at the word go, I'd estimate that lowered church responsibilities plus the diminished commute time means that we have an extra 15 or so hours a month–concentrated mostly on Sunday mornings. So even after walking a block after church for tacos with some friends and taking a two hour nap, we had time to kill.
Normally this sort of space would be a joy due to it's scarcity. But something about the fact that this would be happening again and again made me slightly panicked. What do I do with all this time? For lack of a more poetic way of saying it–I was bored.
I once heard an interview where Malcolm Gladwell–the author of the wonderful book Outliers and others–was talking about growing up in a fairly conservative religious home in southern rural Ontario. They didn't have TV–something that Gladwell is now grateful for. When he would complain to his mother about being bored, she would reply that being bored is your brain–a muscle–getting the rest it needs.
I had never thought of boredom as something positive, but rather something to be tolerated at times. So with rest in mind, I decided to stew in my boredom a bit. I'm working on some big projects right now that are going to tax my brain muscle, so why not let it chill out for a while?
Easier said than done.
I'm not good at lack of stimulation. Even though we don't have a TV–and just cancelled our Netflix–the kittypicturenet is a universe of stimulation that I exploit regularly. Part of it has to do with my personality. I fidget continually. I have to be doing something. But even if I need momentum more than many, it also means severe rest is also very important. Because–as I've pointed out before–my pattern of life was not sustainable.
So what will I do next Sunday?
be bored rest my brain.