Boredom. We spend most of our childhood trying to avoid it. Yet rainy days, elementary school lessons, and the evening news brought it’s ugly face to the forefront. It is what caused us to proclaim with such antipathy, “I’m boooooooored.” Boredom is one of the worst things a child can experience in their own mind.
Luckily for kids and adults alike we are close to eradicating boredom for good. With recent technological advances we now have the opportunity for amusement at our fingertips. Our tv has over 600 channels and the capability to record anything for a more convient vegging experience. Phones have access to stores with thousands of mobile games which seem to go in and out of popularity at a blinding pace. There are gaming systems that, at the flip of a switch, can transport you to another world where you are a mythical hero, sports star, or military special operative. The internet is filled with news stories, religion articles, videos, gifs, and blogs to satisfy any craving your mind might have.
We almost have boredom beat. That’s good…right?
a•muse [verb] :: 1. to hold the attention of (someone) pleasantly; entertain or divert; 2. to engross, absorb
In Ancient Greece, muses were beautiful creatures that not only caused people to stop and stare, but were often times the subjects for artists and poets. If something is a•musing it can be understood to have the opposite effect of a muse. Things we use to amuse ourselves are meant to hold our attention or absorb us into what they are. They don’t enliven us. They may provide us with laughter or entertainment momentarily, but ultimately their purpose is temporary and fleeting. Our amusing activities become a mindless practice in passing the time.
Boredom and amusement are in a constant struggle. We have come to believe that boredom is the protagonist in the battle. What if boredom is the key to greatness? Instead of mindless amusement, maybe boredom can open the door for great creativity. Would Michael Jordan have become MJ if he had YouTube videos of Wilt Chamberlain and Dr. J to watch all day? Would Pride and Prejudice exist if Jane Austen had spent her time keeping up with the Kardashians?
Boredom is the arena were laundry baskets turn into racecars, cardboards boxes become rocketships, phrases become melodies, and emotions become sonnets. The creative spirit hovers around us begging for an entry point that we crowd with memes and viral videos.
My resolution for the new year is to invite boredom into my house. To turn off the tv, put away the phone, put down the controller, and power down the laptop. The imagination of a child can run wild with simple things like a box or a basket. What creativity and imagination have we missed out on already? I’m team boredom all the way.
Where do you find yourself seeking amusement? What is waiting to be created?