Boredom is a Paradise

“Boredom is paradise … it is the blessed absence of what the world offers as ‘interesting’, i.e., the lures of fashion, media and other people, which, you may recall, Sartre considered Hell.”
— Billy Collins

I love this article on the merits of boredom (found via the Lifehack Community Blog). I am a big believer in the instructive power of Boredom, especially for kids. In that space created when there is nothing on TV, they’ve played all the video games, nobody’s available online to chat or in meatspace to come over and play; in that space when the list of usual suspects fail to entertain; in that space is the springboard to creativity, learning, and invention. It is “part of a dialectic between activity and inactivity” from which new things come.

But going deeper is a benefit I hadn’t considered: spiritual depth. Rather than frantically attempting to escape boredom, the contemplative person sits with the the “unquiet mind,” facing the lack of understanding and ultimate fear of death which drives the mind so frantic in the quietude of inactivity.

“Excruciating as it may be, boredom offers an elevated awareness of time’s conquering, expansive enormity … It’s an intimation of death, a glimpse into the nothingness that lurks behind and threatens each person, each project, each moment.”

Fear of the abyss leads us to run from boredom. Facing boredom allows us to face that fear. Or at least find a new and innovative way to alleviate it.

I’ll need to remember this the next time I can’t find anything to watch on TV. It’s like a call to prayer.

2 thoughts on “Boredom is a Paradise

  1. “I am a big believer in the instructive power of Boredom, especially for kids.”

    You sound like my mom. When she heard the whiney, “Maaaaaa, I’m boooo-oooored,” he response was always, “Life is boring, get used to it.” If we persisted we got the “Well, if you’re bored then I guess you guys aren’t as smart as I thought you were, ’cause bright kids would have thought up something to do.”

    Of course, Mom was also one that didn’t put up with whining. Even as a kid I marvelled at the other kids “gimme” syndrome at the checkout stand. She would have had my ass for that kind of thing. We got a sample cookie at the bakery, we’d better be happy with it.

  2. Pingback: Blessed and Idle « Overflow

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