I ran across a quote from Frederick Buechner the other day, and it stirred up a few thoughts:
Boredom ought to be one of the seven deadly sins. It deserves the honor.
You can be bored by virtually anything if you put your mind to it, or choose not to. You can yawn your way through Don Giovanni or a trip to the Grand Canyon or an afternoon with your dearest friend or a sunset. There are doubtless those who nodded off at the coronation of Napoleon or the trial of Joan of Arc or when Shakespeare appeared at the Globe in Hamlet or when Lincoln delivered himself of a few remarks at Gettysburg. The odds are that the Sermon on the Mount had more than a few of the congregation twitchy and glassy-eyed.
To be bored is to turn down cold whatever life happens to be offering you at the moment. It is to cast a jaundiced eye at life in general, including most of all your own life. You feel nothing is worth getting excited about because you are yourself not worth getting excited about.
To be bored is a way of making the least of things you often have a sneaking suspicion you need the most.
To be bored to death is a form of suicide.
~originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words
I, too, know the pitfalls of boredom.
Personally, it’s when I feel I have “nothing to do” that the mind tends to wander…and it’s rarely an innocent trip. Honestly, it’s one of my easiest “triggers” toward a massive addiction habit I’ve been saddled with; the “thorn in my flesh” so to speak. So boredom is a huge thing for me.
I immediately need to shift my mind toward some other daily task, even if I hadn’t originally planned on accomplishing those things that day. Suddenly, they become massively important, for my sanity, for my moral strength, and, ultimately, for my faith walk.
Sometimes, diving into the Word helps.
Sometimes, penning a few of my own helps.
Sometimes, simply going for a walk to clear my head helps.
Even making dinner while the classic rock blares away on Spotify has helped.
That’s the funny thing about moving beyond the trigger: it’s never been one singular thing that leads me away from the temptation. “Instead of going here, go here, every time”, doesn’t work for me. Maybe it’s the variety of alternatives, I don’t know. All I can tell you is that having an arsenal of several options seems to lighten the tendencies to remain in any appeal of the habit.
The only thing that doesn’t help? Dwelling on why I’m bored and how to prevent it in the future. For me, this only tends to spiral into the, “well if A is inevitable, then so is B…”, and off I go.
Yes, boredom, idle time, “down time”, whatever you want to call it, will inevitably happen.
What you do about it often determines your character. Simple as that.
Thanks for the reminder today, Frederick!