Sunday, May 2, 2010

I belong to a writers group, and we're currently working on a collaborative project - an "abcdarium". Each of us has committed to write 200-500 words on a state of mind beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet. I wrote on boredom, generosity, loneliness, and vitality.

I had a terrible time with boredom. It took three drafts before I finally have something I can live with. Here it is.


I rarely experience boredom. I made a list recently of what bores me, and I was surprised by what I found. The items are mostly small-talk conversational topics: what people did over the weekend or ate for lunch; cute and original sayings of their kids or grandkids; a great new recipe; their latest needlepoint or quilting or scrapbooking project. I prefer intentional conversations to small talk, and I’m not crafty. So my boredom list makes sense.

When I travel, I get bored after visiting the first couple of cathedrals, museums, pagodas or mosques. Even archaeological excavation sites can be boring after I’ve seen a few. I love to travel, so I’m embarrassed by this admission. But more than once I’ve passed up the opportunity to visit just one more example of something wonderful - and talked to a local instead.

When I’m bored, it’s not because I have nothing to do. I’d just rather be doing something more purposeful.

I’m a busy woman. I live by my to-do list and I get satisfaction from crossing items off the list – and from adding more items to it. The list is a reflection of my active life. Right now my to-list includes updating a spreadsheet of financial resources, ordering season tickets to the theatre, signing up for a fitness program, enrolling in mediation training, making the final payment on a September schooner cruise, writing an article about my potbellied pig, and planning a trip to Nebraska to visit my great grandfather’s family farm.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting on weekends with keeping the to-do list short on purpose, and I’ve found unexpected pleasure in the random activities that come along – walks in new neighborhoods where I chat with people I’ve never met, phone conversations with people I haven’t seen recently, a visit with a neighbor that turns into helping to fertilize a small garden.

The activities I pursue may be planned or spontaneous, but they engage my mind, or pique my curiosity, or exercise my body, or satisfy my spirit. But I know these same activities may be boring to someone else.

I have an old friend who tells me I’m too busy. “You should slow down and relax,” she says. “Why do you always have to be doing something?” She’s been retired for several years and says she’s joined the “idle and proud of it” club. She has a good brain and a healthy body. I would expect her to be as active in her life as I am in mine. From my perspective, her life seems boring. Just out of curiosity, I may ask her what boredom looks like to her. I expect to be surprised!

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

Very insightful offering! I agree that talking to locals when traveling can be far more interesting that sight-seeing. Another thing is birdwatching in foreign countries and trees and wildflowers, etc.