The joy of boredom

The Boston Globe:

We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life’s greatest luxuries — one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works. Granted, many people emerge from boredom feeling that they have accomplished nothing. But is accomplishment really the point of life? There is a strong argument that boredom — so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness — is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science, and even love. —Carolyn Y. Johnson

If one defines boredom “feeling depressed and anxious because one has nothing interesting or worthwhile to do,” then I’ve proably been bored for about 5 hours since I’ve been married. While I don’t mow my lawn as often as most of my neighbors, I do find myself refreshed by the hour or so during which I can’t really do anything mentally other than let my thoughts wander. I generally think about my father, who spent a lot of time keeping up the lawn (and the rest of the house), and how as teenager I found where he kept his “to do” list, and I would try to spend about 45 minutes a week doing something on that list. (It would generally put him in a great mood to find that I had done something on that list, so he’d sort of celebrate by taking me out to lunch while out on an errand… so doing that little job was a way to score some quality time with Dad.)

It still seems strange that I have household responsibilities now, and every moment I spend with my kids is a potential memory that they’ll keep returning to for the rest of their lives.