04 August 2011

The Benefits of Boredom

This is an excerpt from Carolyn Johnson's "The Joy of Boredom"

Boredom's doldrums were unavoidable, yet also a primordial soup for some of life's most quintessentially human moments... A long drive hove after a frustrating day could force ruminations. A pang of homesickness at the start of a plane ride might put a journey in perspective. 
Increasingly, these empty moments are being saturated with productivity, communication and the digital distractions by an ever-expanding array of slick mobile devices. 
But are we too busy twirling through the songs on our iPods - while checking email, while changing lanes on the highway - to consider whether we are giving up a good thing? We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries - one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. 
To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works. Granted, many people emerge from boredom feeling that they have accomplished nothing. But is accomplishment really the point of life? 
There is a strong argument that boredom - so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness - is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science and even love.
This should not be an excuse to do nothing, though. It's just an appreciation of every season we are in.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8