Sunday, March 07, 2010

Boredom An Epiphany

"From 7:00 to 8:00 we take our early evening nap, and then for an hour before we go to bed at 9:00 we waste time. "As you can see, that leaves almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stopped to think or laugh, we'd never get nothing done."

"You mean you'd never get anything done," corrected Milo.

"We don't want to get anything done," snapped another angrily; "we want to get nothing done, and we can do that without your help."

"You see," continued another in a more conciliatory tone, "it's really quite strenuous doing nothing all day, so once a week we take a holiday and go nowhere, which was just where we were going when you came along. Would you care to join us?"

"I might as well," thought Milo; "that's where I seem to be going anyway." -The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.


An attack by pirates would be a welcome change. Steady winds and a strong sail propel the boat miles offshore. Long passed are the shipping lanes and boats staying close to harbor. Now we are out, somewhere, in the middle of the ocean.

The sea grows calm and smooth as glass. The wind, no longer steady, has ceased blowing. To complicate matters there is no motor. The only thing that could make matters worse would be… “Yes it would have been a good idea to recharge the battery for the GPS.” Drifting without direction, powerless and visionless I count the minutes until I leave work.

Like the Polar Bear at the zoo I pace back-and-forth. I stand and sip coffee as I face another day without challenge, another visionless morning. Even as I stare out the window my mind seeks to grasp something solid. Thinking through options that make life interesting I have an epiphany.

Difficulties and trials stretch one's limits and allow little opportunity for boredom. I grab a sheet of paper and proceed to outline the last five years of my life. It looks something like this:

2005: Move to desert. Start new job. Get kicked out of house.
2006: Move into new house. Find out about affair. Begin divorce proceedings.
2007: Look for new job. Fret about finances. New job opportunity.
2008: Divorce final. Mom gets cancer. Take care of mom.
2009: Mom passes away. Lose consulting job.

Looking at the list I think to myself, “Maybe boredom’s not a bad thing.” Quick upon the heels of that thought two others rush in:

1) Boredom is another trial. 2) I must learn to fill the boredom with things that make a difference.

Unlike the Polar Bear I can make my time productive. In the lulls at work I can pray. I can create and plan ways to encourage others. I can dream big and not let boredom become my master. Could it be that boredom too is a steady wind moving me onto greater adventure?

What do you think?

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