“The cure for boredom is curiousity. There is no cure for curiousity.” Ellen Parr
When we were younger, one of my brothers flopped on the couch and said, “I wish we had time to be bored.” I never remember being bored as a child. I was always a curious child, though not nearly as clever as my youngest brother, and my mother says that I used to ask how anyone could be bored when there were books to read. It seems I haven’t changed much in that respect – and that’s partly why I love my IPhone so much! I’ve about 80 books on it so I can always turn to one of them if I’m stuck somewhere. Or email, or play Scrabble, or blog or go on Facebook, or phone people – yes, my phone does still do that.
I find it hard to slow down and just do nothing (unless I’m by the sea or on a mountain top). As I get older I see how quickly life passes and I don’t want to waste any time, so I’m much more selective about what I read, watch on TV, or do; if I only have so many hours in a day, I’m going to make sure that I’m doing what I prefer to do or choose to do.
So one of the things that most stresses me out is wasting time – stuck in a traffic jam, in a queue, behind someone who is taking forever to sort things out. I normally carry a book with me, paper and pen to capture thoughts, postcards and notepaper to write a quick note or letter to someone – but what if I’m stuck somewhere and I can’t do anything like this? A place where I have to appear engaged? When I can’t leave where I am, and I’m supposed to be listening to something that I’m not the least curious about, what options do I have?
I’d tried doodling, which is supposed to keep your mind focussed when it doesn’t want to be, and found that I can draw some interesting doodles but it didn’t keep my mind where my body was. I wished I had brought a quotation with me so I could learn it, the sort of quotation that I could pull to mind when I needed it, to inspire or comfort me. I thought of people who survived solitary confinement with just their mind and four walls to keep them company, and who spoke of reciting poetry or songs learned a long time beforehand, or of those who wrote a book in their head about their history or experience.
Curiousity & Creativity
In the end, it wasn’t a wasted meeting. I found that I’m more creative than I thought I was, as I could think of lots of things I could do when my body was one place and my mind could be another. I could write, I could sleep with my eyes open and my head down slightly with my hair covering my face if I’d been sitting in a different spot. I could write my shopping list, work out gift lists, write to-do lists, organise my next week or so. I could write letters instead of “taking notes.” I could draw, plan out a room, spring-clean, plan menus ahead, start Chinese whispers or I could play I spy.
Curiousity and Noticing
And in playing I Spy, I found that I noticed much more than I normally would – the can stuck inside the crook of a chair, the huge cobweb in one corner, the blu-tac still stuck to a surface, the damp patch just beside the door, the particular handle on the door, earrings, the speakers. All things that would be highly useful for a game like I spy, and all things I wouldn’t normally notice. I briefly noticed my breathing and concentrated on that too.
Curiousity & Mindfulness
I realised that I could sit where I was with “what is” and simply observe and notice what I noticed with all my senses.
I noticed that I felt detached and calm acknowledging I couldn’t move and wasn’t learning. I noticed that normally such inactivity would incredibly frustrate me; I find it hard to just do nothing. I noticed the sounds in the room from the front and all around me, and the sounds from outside. I noticed breathing and music playing softly outside and the faint sound of music and cups rattling and laughter. I noticed the smells from food eaten earlier, perfume and aftershave. I noticed the variation of light around me; most of it artificial, but still there were variations. And I noticed jewellery, the colours of the various chairs and textures.
So though it doesn’t happen that I’m so bored I zone out of something completely, what I found was that time flew by and at the end of the experience where others were deflated, I actually felt energised. Curiouser and curiouser….