Sunday, March 9, 2008

Boredom is a good thing

There was a great article in the Boston Sunday Globe entitled "The joy of boredom", by Carolyn Johnson. It is all about how our lives are so filled every minute, we don't have time to be bored, and boredom is so often a source of imagination and creativity.

I remember people lamenting in the 1980s that children watched too much television -- those days now seem quaint! No internet, cell phones, iPod, or PlayStation. The simple life. I suspect that today will someday seem like a simpler time also.

Here is a link to the article. (I didn't get to read the whole thing, I was too busy...)


Bob Flynn said...

YAY for boredom! Seriously, whenever I hear someone say how bored they are, I'm surprised. There are so many things grabbing at my attention I can hardly focus sometimes. Maybe people get overloaded...or just get sick of doing the same repetitive things.

Boredom is indeed a seed for creativity. I think I owe growing up in a small town in Maine a lot of credit for why I started drawing in the first place--the only thing to do in between playing out side and watching cartoons.

Renee Kurilla said...

I love and hate being bored. I hate the things I do when I'm bored...I check my Facebook and Myspace about 80 times until I finally give up and start doing something creative.
Usually once I hit a breaking point, say I'm working on an animation all night and I've made my bird character jump from one point to another...this is a breaking point. Time to check in with Facebook.
I hate it. But it's like an addiction.
Without distractions, I'd be way further along in my list of things to do.
The only distraction I can agree with? Music.

My favorite quote from that article:
"Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries..."

Bob Flynn said...

The more i think about it, the more I think boredom (free time) is a luxury that is about to go away (this worries me). As soon as the whole family thing swings around, I doubt I'll even be able to contemplate being bored for at least 18 years.

I do get bored with the things I do, I suppose...but I usually move on to something else, and it usually ends up that I start drawing. Its been a pattern I developed as a kid. To all you artists, there's really no excuse. If you find yourself staring at the wall or ceiling---either take a nap, or start drawing. Drawing will kill time until you think of something else to do :)

Boredom traps: TV and the internet...if there's nothing on TV, there's nothing on TV (shut it off). The internet is a little better because there is lots of stuff to read, and much more selection...but eventually you run out of things to do there to.

Being bored is kind of a nice break from everything...the space inbetween doing things. Next time your bored, just think that something fun is right around the corner.

Marli said...

(Hi everyone, it's been while, but I'm still reading!)

I definitely separate boredom from free time. More often than not, if I'm bored it's because I'm stuck somewhere without paper and pen, or I'm too tired to make something up in my head, or I'm waiting for something specific and can't allow my mind to wander.

Free time is different - free time doesn't allow for boredom. There are too many books to read, ideas to persue, plans to make, and adventures to attempt!

Bob Flynn said...

Great points, Marli (hi!). I think the article speaks more to the idea that people are so busy these days they don't have time to be bored. Or that they busy themselves to avoid boredom. And the idea is that it's not so bad to be bored. And that maybe we're missing out by being over-stimulated.

I agree with you about free time. And I have to say I generally think I have my fair share of free time (at least nights and weekend). It's what you make of your free time. I generally find myself filling free time with all the things I enjoy, so I'm not bored very often.

Boredom and free time cross paths when you don't know what to do with your time. We're in a different league, because we're creative folks. Most people would be clueless with out their computer or TV. I thought this quote was great:

"Just looking around, it was evident that children quell boredom quite naturally, with creativity -- even to the point of taking the packaging around a gift and playing with it for hours."

And this:

"The most creative people, he said, are known to have the greatest toleration for long periods of uncertainty and boredom."

I find this is the state I live in when I'm working on a comic. And I would suspect is a common experience for a writer. You put up with the tedium and difficulty because you know the pay-off will eventually bring you great pleasure.

But here's the problem. We're supposed to be social creatures, right? So I feel like we should be in the minority. People want to be connected (on a phone, on the internet, on Facebook, on email) because that's how we're supposed to be wired. Lonliness is bad....THUS... boredom is to be avoided.

The next time your on the bus, T, or riding in a car, shut off the radio (put away the iPod) and see what happens. The only downside to driving is you won't be able to jot down all your thoughts and ideas :)

John L said...

Thanks for all the great comments. I think the boredom issue is more important with kids, because they need to exercise their imaginations -- which most media does NOT do. They also need to exercise their bodies.

There is good boredom and bad boredom. The good kind is when you are restless and need an outlet for your brain. The bad kind is when you feel lethargic and just want to veg out. Then it's easy to just surf the TV or internet, while in the "old days" you had to go DO something.