Finding a certain level of acceptable boredom

By Gail M. Williams
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

July is National Anti-Boredom Month, which makes sense if you think about it. Fourth of July with all its fireworks and hoopla is past, and school has not yet begun. Parents dread hearing “I’m bored!” from their kids, knowing that no matter what activity they suggest, the child will whine, “No, that’s boring!”
I once heard a lecture on the four emotions. The theory was that all human emotions can be broken down into four main ones labeled “Mad, Glad, Sad and Afraid.” It occurred to me that boredom does not fit any of the categories.
During my own life, whenever I’ve suffered a loss or am under stress, I’ve found that I feel, primarily, bored.
Boredom may be the body’s way of dealing with stress, shutting down emotions until a good meal, a good night’s rest, a phone call to a trusted friend or other action can shake loose Mad, Glad, Sad or Afraid and let you understand what you’re feeling and deal with it.
Nowadays, whenever I’m bored, I try to analyze my feelings and get to the bottom of what my true emotion is.
Have you ever sat through a meeting and felt so supremely bored that you wanted to scream? I have, and when I analyze what I’m feeling, I find that, deep, down inside, I’m mad. I don’t like being at the meeting, everyone seems to have something to say and is taking too long to say it, and furthermore, I’m hungry and thirsty and missing my favorite TV show.
Knowing this lets me recharge my inner batteries with something like, “This really can’t last forever,” or, “Is there something I can say to move this along,” or, “Maybe it’s time I called the question.”
When I’m bored at home, I feel as though there are plenty of things I might be doing, but I don’t want to do any of them. The temptation is to sit down in front of the television and look for an interesting show (although, when you’re bored, none of them is interesting), or go endlessly flipping through Facebook posts, looking for something that might grab you (but nothing really does).
I have learned the technique of lying down until I think of something I really want to do. In some cases this results in a nap, which is, at least, a temporary cure for boredom.
When my children were growing up, I recommended the same technique for them. It seldom resulted in a nap, but they often came out of the bedroom with an idea of what it was they really wanted to do.
Nowadays, we seem to need to be entertained every minute of the day. My grandmother had no such need. She simply sat down with a cup of green tea, plenty of cream and sugar. Sometimes she would aimlessly tap a pen on the kitchen table.
I have no idea what she was thinking of – but, whatever it was, she seemed content to be in the moment and had no need for a radio, a TV screen or even a book to keep herself entertained.
Online sites have plenty of advice on what you and your children can do to stave off summer-time boredom. The memory of Grandma, however, makes me think that perhaps we should allow a certain level of acceptable boredom in our lives, take a break from the media and find out what it is we think about when we have nothing to do.

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