When I was in the 7th grade at Granville, New York’s middle/high school, we were asked in the home economics class to create collages that described ourselves.
Right dead-center of mine was a big, bold word, cut from some magazine or another:
When the teacher, who looked puzzled, asked me what I meant by that, I responded casually, “I like being bored. It gives me time to do whatever I want.”
Although I think I was slightly confused by the actual definition of the word in my tender middle school years, it has since come to my attention that I have never actually been bored. I am baffled by people who complain that there is nothing to do, how bored they are, or how something is so boring. I just don’t get it.
To me, a time of boredom would be that time when you have no responsibilities, no plans with friends, absolutely nothing you have to do. This is my favorite time. I can read for 5 hours straight and not feel guilty. I can write blogs about things like tampons or uh… not being bored. One of my favorite activities to do when I’m lacking set plans is to load my dog into my green Subaru and just drive, drive down a road that I’ve never driven before. A couple days ago I found an impressive gym that I never even knew existed, bigger than the gym I am a member of now and 10 minutes closer. Success. I have found a million already used treasures from impromptu stops in thrift stores or tag sales. Success. One early morning, I saw my first -and probably only…?- ever bobcat on the side of the road. Success. I have learned innumerable facts, stories, tid-bits. Success. Years ago, I once helped an old man wrangle his sheep on the side of the road and he offered me coffee. We ended up talking for 30 minutes before I got in my car and aimlessly drove again. Success. These discoveries, stories, moments, unintended introductions to strangers, amongst other things, would probably never have taken place had I not been ‘bored’ (or whatever).
Yesterday, my car broke. Yesterday, my boyfriend went away for the weekend. No car. No cell service. No immediate person to talk to and help me figure out a plan for excitement. Just me, my dog, and a house in the woods. For many, this would be a death sentence of 48 hours of straight boredom. They would call their best friend and whine about how there was nothing to do. They would update their Facebook status to say “I’m soooo bored.” They would sit at home and watch Jersey Shore, all the while sighing because their mind was incapable of figuring out something to entertain themselves.
This would never happen to me. In my first evening stuck and alone I: went for an hour long walk with my dog through the woods, discovered we have a second apple tree growing in our backyard, made my own vanilla bean exfoliating paste (2 tablespoons white rice, 1 vanilla bean, and 1/2 cup natural, plain yogurt), learned that chickens have more chromosomes than humans and pondered this, called a friend just to tell him that I learned that chickens have more chromosomes than humans, dived half way through a novel about a most delicious yet sour and complicated Muslim love story, rolled out my yoga mat and tried to do an hour of that but it eventually turned into me choreographing a dance to a Britney Spears’ song using only yoga poses (again…), wrote two letters to people who will never receive them, made a pasta dish with spicy tempeh that I have been dying to try, planted a mini Bonsai tree with a seed I’ve had for months, burnt a bag of microwavable popcorn, made another bag of microwavable popcorn and didn’t burn it, and finished the night off with an ABC family movie, a bowl of (unburnt) popcorn and a glass of whiskey. Every minute of this night was filled with solo giggles and not once did I even think to log into Facebook or even contemplate that I might be bored. It wasn’t necessarily the most productive night, I didn’t wake up with crazy stories to tell my friends, and I didn’t make a single dollar. Yet, it was satisfying in the most un-boring way and really, it’s all thanks to me.
Boredom is not a real place that you can actually be. It is a state of mind which offers the opportunity to learn something or try something you have always wanted to or simply never have before. It is an opportunity to relax. It is an opportunity to do whatever you want with it. Don’t waste it worrying about being bored. You don’t need an abundance of destinations, supplies, friends, or the like. You just need an hour to be bored and an undeveloped idea or question, an aimless walk or car ride, any old pen or pencil. You’d be surprised how naturally the rest will flow.
I am incapable of being bored, and I have a hard time thinking anyone else can be either.
Honestly to me, it’s not a question of how bored you are, but rather a question of how boring you are.
I can only hope that I am as peacefully and happily bored as I was last night, on my second day stuck in the woods with nothing to do, a dog, and time.