Friday, February 08, 2013

The Upside of Boredom

You never know what treasures you will find in a Mickey Dee's. It certainly won't be a new culinary delight, but during a recent pit stop I saw a New York Times (yes, in a MacDonalds) and picked it up to soften the blow of what I was about to eat.

There was an article entitled Be Aware of the Upside of Boredom which maintained that we need a certain amount of dull downtime to stimulate creativity and self awareness. Our lives have become so stuffed with stimulation and activity, much of it electronic, that we can't function without it. We have become less able to dwell in the quiet, unstimulated times which are often the oasis at which we drink up and think up new ideas and outlooks.

The article talks about how Lego used to be blocks for random creativity (and for parents to step on I might add) but now they come with specific instructions to put together the toy related to the latest big movie.

I would suggest that adults are as unable as children to waste time in a worthwhile way. While that may sound like a contradiction in terms, I know that periods spent in monasteries and convents with no agenda other than the worship opportunities have been amongst the most meaningful and insightful for me. I usually begin by feeling that I am going through busyness withdrawal, antsy beyond belief. But then in the walking, and praying, and reading, and drawing I begin to reconnect with what I think is my true self, as well as the God who created me and loves me. In recent years I have taken to holy noodling on the guitar and mandolin.

We are just about at Lent (Ash Wednesday next week) a traditional time of reflection and recollection. Do you think you might waste some time or get bored with God during those 40 days? Are you any good at dull downtime, or do you need to be perpetually occupied? Do you feel guilty choosing to be bored, or at least quiet? Are you thinking of pulling out that bucket of Lego?


IanD said...

Love Lego! But I grew up with the original stuff: none of those curved bits or custom characters, kid. You had to use your imagination for that!

I totally SUCK at down time. Usually on Christmas break and March Break, I can unwind, but the rest of the time I put myself in state of "productivity pressure." It's certainly something I need to change.

The best down time, though, is spent with my kids. Nothing like a drawn out game of Connect Four, right?

Amy McC said...

With all the stresses and pressure that go along with being a teenager and trying to get through high school I find "do nothing" time is a critical part of my day ! One of the things I like to do is watch television. When I watch tv can stop worrying about my life for thirty minuets just focus on what is happening on the show. I don't need to think or make decisions I can just relax. Although my relaxation method is not very deep or poetic or creative I find it so affective. It givings my brain a rest and allows me to be refreshed and more prepared to put my best self forward to take on my everyday life.

roger said...

I'm allowing myself 4 minutes to read this blog and comment before moving on to my next task.

Seriously, it's not that bad, but I do feel guilty if I actually don't have something planned. Like Ian said, it is a pressure to be productive.

I am trying to put more time into hobbies and volunteering, as well as appreciating the little things in life that I take for granted. I could elaborate on that, but then I might turn this into a really sappy comment.

Not Alone said...

Lincoln Logs for me! Question...does a Lincoln Log chimney on a Lego home meet the building code?