Monday, July 16, 2012


I’m not. But often, I see people posting on Facebook about being bored or their kids being bored or how bored they are or how they hate being bored and having nothing to do.

I hadn’t considered it before in concrete terms, but upon reflecting on these “I’m bored” comments, I have become aware that I’m never bored. This is a revelation—not because it surprises me, but because even though it seems obvious, I’d never really thought about it until now. In truth, I’m tired more often than I’d like to be. Stressed or overworked, sometimes. Lackadaisical every now and then. But bored? Never. Honest: never.

The English teacher me headed for the dictionary to see if I could discover any new insights about the word “bored.” The dictionary often rewards my efforts with arcane meanings that have been lost or altered over the centuries; this time, the results were more or less straightforward but still rewarding. When used as an adjective (describing a kind of feeling or awareness), “bored” comes from Old English via Germanic roots via the word bohren, reflecting the verb, i.e., the making of a hole into something, followed by the reality of emptiness created by that hole. Presumably, when one is “bored,” there’s an empty spot within that the bored-afflicted can’t seem to fill or doesn’t care about filling. Similarly, a person described as “boring” may be considered tedious or tiresome or dull or even as a wet blanket, one who sucks life out of a space and creates even more emptiness.

As for me, I just don’t seem to find those holes in my day. I wake up in the morning and immediately start thinking about all the things I want to and have to get done that day, and the day becomes a matter of unbounded possibilities and finding balance between what must be done and the fact that there’s never going to be enough time to do everything I want to do. Likewise, when I find myself with free time, it’s never a matter of being bored and feeling “empty.” I tend to have the opposite problem: too many options. Should I start the new book? Work on my sketching? Grade a few papers? Make some progress on the next book outline? Dive into my photo-organizing project? Putter in the garden? Go for a swim? Read for an hour or two? Watch a movie? Take Owen for a walk? Call a friend for coffee? Write a blog post? Check Facebook? Fiddle with my herbs? Try a new recipe? Clean the garage? There are dozens of ways I can spend my time, and there’s never enough time to do everything. When I’m confronted with unexpected time, it becomes a gift of unrealized possibility and excitement. Some may called me a little too Type A, and I wouldn't be able to deny the label. But bored? Never. Not so far, anyway.

So where’s the disconnect? Why do some people struggle with recurrent ennui and apathy while others simply don’t find boredom in their personal gene pools? I have no answer. Maybe as children, the oft-bored never learned to keep themselves busy. Maybe the frequently-bored have never developed hobbies—and let’s be clear that playing with a smart phone doesn’t qualify as a hobby. Maybe they don't read. (If one loves reading, you'll never be bored.) Perhaps, as noted above, being "Type A" confers immunity against boredom. Part of me also wonders if boredom may be an effect of our increasingly digitalized/sound bite world. Are we becoming so dependent on electronic entertainment and instant e-socialization that we’re lost when left to our own devices? To be honest, I hope that’s not it, because that would be incredibly depressing.

I’m not sure what’s at play here, what makes some people lose hours to boredom on a given day. I’m just thankful that I wasn’t bored this morning, am not bored now, and don’t plan to be bored anytime soon.

And, I hope that reading this didn't bore you. 

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