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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are we there yet? I'm sooooo bored!!!!!

Boredom. Don't you hate it? Nothing to do, and if there is something to do you've done it a million times. Nothings happening, and you are bored, with a capital B. Now, I'm not going to get into a rave here about how, at least those of us fortunate enough to be able to read this blog (I mean no immodesty here: I refer to the access many of us have to the marvel which allows us to read it should we choose...and who wouldn't really?), live at the most materially prosperous, the most technologically advanced, the most information rich time in human history. I read a cool sentence the other day: We in the 'west' live in a culture of distraction. (While slightly paraphrased, it is still a very groovy description of our glutted, rich materialistic lifestyle don't you think? But that's a different story than the one for today. So, no lectures about getting over the boredom and enjoy your riches ... whatever form they take.

No, I am inspired today by a report I read today about a study put out by East Anglia University in England. Seems they did some heavy duty research into what the article called 'decades of studies on boredom'. If you ask me I can think of very few things more boring than studying boredom, but hey, whatever gets you interested, or whatever gets you the research grants, right?

Anyway, the report says that they published a paper last year that concluded,

'boredom should be recognised as legitimate human emotion that can be central to
learning and creativity'.

I think it's easy to see where they're coming from here. What happens when you come to be bored by something? I mean apart from complaining about it like I know I do sometimes. You try and change things; you try to fix whatever it is that's causing the boredom. Of course on a long train ride, let's say, you're not going to be able to make the train go any faster simply by wanting to relieve your own boredom. Hey, far out example eh? (not!)

But, for writers, boredom is an opportunity. It often strikes me when I'm 'not in the mood' for writing', or when I'm blocked, or when I'm tired. Whatever and whenever; it still hits hard sometimes. So, what to do? Well, I wouldn't mind guessing that I'm not the first one who's ever said to you, 'if you're bored, find something to do'. Am I right? Sure am.

Can't write? Then sort files, or 'shuffle papers' as a friend of mine use to say. You just never know what treasures you'll dig up. I found a poem, over a year old and long forgotten and neglected, the other day just by leafing through a notebook in a moment of idle boredom. (It isn't a treasure ... not yet anyway). Not in the mood to write? Then don't try; read a book, go for a walk, watch TV (please take care with this last piece of advice). Sleep even. The Dalai Lama said, according to my trustee daily Dalai Lama quote widget on my home page: Sleep is the best form of meditation. And we all know that Robert Louis Stevenson actually dreamed a lot of the stuff in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. When he was asleep that is.

Boredom is a powerful tool for creative types: I guess it can relate to what I was writing about yesterday: being driven to complete something, being overly goal oriented when it just isn't flowing, can lead to boredom. Better to stop pushing and just groove on the boredom; see where it takes you. Going with the flow I guess.

And boredom can strike anytime and anywhere. I think it can even happen when things seem to be going really well: the words are coming out, but they just aren't saying it. Know what I mean? Pretty scary when a writer is bored by her/his own stuff even while it's being written. Probably time to stop, give it up. Give into the boredom and leave it alone; do something else for a while.

So, I guess those researcher wallas might be onto something: boredom should be recognised as legitimate (sure feels that way when it hits don't you think?) and not denied or pushed through. A recognition that it can lead to a way towards creativity and its expression, will help us to acquire this recognition and acceptance more readily.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am starting to bore myself. So I am out of here. (Not really, it's just that we have a DVD to watch, and I am soooo easily distracted by such things)

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