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  • I get very angry when people say that they are bored. I used to tell my children and my students, when they complained they were bored, to find something to do or I would find something for them. The implied threat was that I would give them a task that they would prefer not to do.

    In theory, the creative mind can think of endless creative activities and diversions.

    Diversions from what? Experiencing boredom?

    What exactly IS boredom?

    I experience boredom as an uncomfortable restless agitation, a desire to be doing something interesting or meaningful or both.

    I think the reason that I get angry about boredom is the same reason why I am so very good at occupying myself at writing stories on Cowbird, doing new artwork, writing poems and novels.

    I can almost always think of things to do. I could meditate. I could do yoga or T'ai Chi. I could take a walk. I could clean, wish dishes, do laundry, vacuum, organize files, delete pictures that are flawed, write letters. My two-do list is miles long and I never have time to finish it all.

    And why is that? Because I am afraid of boredom.

    Boredom is the other end of the busy-ness scale.

    I tend to get severely bored when I am trapped somewhere I don't want to be, especially, for example, at the doctor's or dentist's office when I don't know when I'll get called, or when I am waiting for someone somewhere.

    I get agitated.

    My husband, on the other hand, rests. He's very patient. He may take a nap. He may just vegetate. He may read. He does get annoyed if he has to wait too long. For example, our son's music teacher would say, "pick up the kids at 9:00, and don't be late!" Keith would go and sit in the car and wait and at 11 PM, the kids would slowly drag out. That would bug him, but otherwise, he's pretty patient.

    Me, on the other hand, I'd be livid!

    I've been meditating for 48 years, but I'm still not very good at it. The real problem with "boredom," for me, is being alone with myself and my thoughts, fears, worries, self-condemnation, self-judgments, guilt, recriminations, etc.

    The thoughts that crop up in my mind when I am alone and not otherwise occupied are often not pleasant.

    I can return to the breath, over and over, but the thoughts return.

    I wonder how much of our dislike of boredom comes from a Puritan work ethic (we're not being useful, we're not accomplishing something) and how much of it comes from a desire to avoid being alone with our thoughts.

    I think about primitive cultures, how they work hard, celebrate, relax, sing, dance, rest. I'm not good at resting. I'm not terribly good at working, either.

    My best skill is avoiding boredom and being creative. Creativity brings me pleasure and relief. Between that and the "love" I get on Cowbird, I guess I write more than I should.

    On the other hand, I am a writer. Writing is what I do.

    *

    Notes:

    ~take care of yourself FIRST!
    ~Do what you need to do for YOU!
    ~Don't feel guilty!
    ~First things first!
    ~SMILE! :-)

    ~My husband Keith took the photo of me with a ground cherry, which I ate. They are good in pies and jams. They grow as weeds in our garden, so we eat them.

    ~~~~~ this symbol, as used here, means "chill" or, relax.
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