Saturday, May 16, 2015

     I often wonder how ministers come up with new sermons week after week. How many lessons can one teach in different attention-getting ways to lead people down the “right path?” It’s not like the gazillion verbs I could teach in my French classes when I could act them out, make poems out of them, turn them into drum riffs.

      There are only so many rules and lessons in the Bible. Many people can only relate to them if the preacher makes them relevant to their lives. The same may be said of blogs. How many topics can I address that will engage my audience (whom I don’t know)? One would think that the older we are and the more experiences we have, the easier it would be to come up with a thought-provoking essay, a humorous story with a point or an inspirational message guaranteed to make people stop and think. Au contraire, the older the blogger, the more difficult it can be to relate. The easiest topics, therefore, are those that are universal, age non-specific like love, courage and dust.

     This morning, I choose boredom. If you tell me you’ve never been bored, you’re lying. Everyone on the planet has been bored at one time or another whether it’s twelve seconds or twelve years. My definition of bored is:  whenever I am not engaged doing something I enjoy. When I admit, and this is rare, that I am bored, I always feel shame associated with it. My father told me that any person who is bored knowing all the things there are to learn in this world should be punished. Well, what about people who aren’t in the mood to learn? What about people who have trouble learning? I love to learn, but I learn from morning till night, and sometimes I need a nap to turn off my learning mechanism. 

     When I was a single parent, working four jobs in my 40s, I was still bored. I have so much energy and ambition that when I am or was not being productive, I am/was bored. Maybe boredom is different for the creative soul than for others. Maybe when I am not creating, I am bored. If you are a creative person, you understand. You get how stimulating it is to create something out of nothing, be it a knitted bootie or a hit tune. Creative people thrive on new ideas, fresh perspective, innovative concepts, inside out ideas. We are constantly vigilant no matter where we are or what we’re doing. I write ideas on my I-phone “notes” page which is in my hand more hours than I want to admit.

     Coming to terms with the label I have put on boredom has evolved over the years. When I retired, boredom stared me in the face as I tried to find creative, meaningful, purpose-driven activities to fill my days. I constantly ask friends and acquaintances what they do all day. When I listen to their lists, I think to myself, “nope, not me.” That doesn’t mean that I label their activities as less important or less productive than mine; it just means that they hold no interest for me. I’m sure most of my friends aren’t into preparing one-woman shows or writing speeches. That’s what makes the world go round. What I have discovered, however, is that the bouts of boredom I experience frequently are really signals I need to heed. They are saying, “Time out. Rest, relax, nap, meditate, stare into space, read a comic strip, pick grass.” They are not shame starters; they are idea igniters. They are time-outs from my thoughts, pauses in my practice, breaks from my brainstorming, whole notes in my song. As the renowned meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “When you pay close attention to boredom, it becomes unbelievable interesting.” There you have it.