sweet boredom

Posted on March 2nd, 2010 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

Honeybloom at Home has a post here that I think speaks volumes. She quotes Bertrand Russell (British philosopher and Nobel Prize winner) as saying:

A certain amount of boredom is…essential to a happy life.

Another quote she gives by Russell:

A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow process of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”

Honeybloom finishes with these words:

Leo Tolstoy wrote “Boredom: the desire for desires,”  which partly explains why we cover up those slow moments with shopping, eating, drinking, rushing to and fro.  But it might be nice to embrace a slow moment sometimes, to stop for a sunset, instead of twittering and tweeting it away.

When I read her post, I couldn’t help but think of a certain mile-marking day in my own life. I was 11 then, lying on the hardwood floor of our North Carolina home on a hot, muggy day. I was strategically positioned under the ceiling fan (since we lived without air conditioning), and I was literally bored to tears. After moping for I don’t know how many hours, I suddenly had a gear shift in my head. I’m going to take this situation into my own hands, I thought. I’m not going to waste my life being miserable. I hunted around till I found just what I didn’t know I was looking for: a scrap of blue calico fabric. I grabbed a pair of scissors, found a needle and thread and some poly fiberfil, and got to work. For the next few hours I hacked and stitched and stuffed, until my raw materials came together in the shape of a stuffed blue horse. It was homely and a bit lopsided, but it was beautiful. And I must say, my life hasn’t been the same since.

Sometimes I wonder, what would have happened to me had I not been pushed to that point of seemingly unbearable boredom? What if my life had been filled with activities and playdates and playmates and fun things to keep me busy? What if I’d had structured schooling and sports and studies to direct my time and interests instead of the loosely woven days spent learning at home?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can say for myself that, almost certainly, I wouldn’t have stumbled on my creative self to the degree that I did. I might not have learned to deal with boredom very well, to find fulfillment in making things with my imagination, my hands, and whatever I else could find on hand (and oh yeah, at the fabric store, and the art store, and the hobby store, etc, etc. Yikes. Brakes, brakes.) But you get the point. As a result of being bored stiff, a whole new world opened up to me, and the course of my everyday life took a sharp turn to the handmade/creative side. I haven’t been bored since.

So don’t be too quick to fill in the empty spaces in your kids’ lives, in your own life. Boredom can be sweet…if you let it work its magic.

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