As far back as I can remember, my generation never really had the luxury of saying ‘I’m bored’ when we were kids. We seldom had access to the kind of structured activities kids of today do. And yet we kind of knew, or at least, learned to figure out what to do with our time. Today, many kids have their weeks and days scheduled right down to the last minute…maths tuitions, soccer games, piano practice, creative writing workshops…What happens, though, the minute there are no lessons scheduled? Out comes a very common refrain…’I’m bored!’ Why is boredom so feared by so many people? And why are people always tumbling over themselves to ensure that neither they nor their kids are bored at any given time? Is boredom such a bad thing that it must be avoided at any cost?
I am fascinated that the moment there is the first gentle hint of boredom, out come the mobile phones, laptops, play stations…instant gratification!…instant entertainment!….and hey presto, boredom has been banished! But to be replaced by what? Mindless games? Movies? Talk shows? Yes! Sad though it seems, it’s very much true. Today, no one wants to risk facing boredom. It must be avoided at all cost! But wait a minute…let’s analyse this terrible thing called boredom. Let’s find out if any good can come out of being bored.
It is my belief that creativity is born out of boredom. Songs can be written…paintings can be created…drama can be performed…so much can be done during the time we are officially considering ourselves ‘bored’. When was the last time kids tore a piece of paper from art books and figured out how to make paper planes or boats with them? I remember my childhood (hazy memory though it is!)…my friends and I would lean into a bucket and watch as our paper boats tossed around in the water. We would throw paper planes around and scream with delight when the one we had created went right across the room. Boredom led us to go seeking new knowledge…we walked around looking for different kinds of leaves and stuck them in scrap books. We made up songs (most didn’t rhyme, but so what?)…we wrote poetry… we performed plays and giggled because inevitably the main characters would end up forgetting their lines…we played robbers and cops and hide n’seek…we painted…rolled out shapes and figures from home-made dough…raced with dinky cars…did puppet shows…oh, we had fun!..and it didn’t cost half as much as the activities cost today. Were we ever bored? Perhaps! But we didn’t have the luxury to sit around and wallow in self-pity.We got up and went about finding the means to keep ourselves entertained. No one handed us their mobile phones to keep us busy. No one switched on the video and played the latest movie. No one took us ten-pin bowling, skating or to laser skirmish. And yet, we managed!
Just occasionally, let Boredom have its moment in the sun. Boredom has a lot to teach us. It teaches us to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. It can open the window to creativity…it can make us look deep within and find a fountain of talent we never knew we had.