Saturday, 8 August 2020

Thoughts on boredom

I don't know about you but in the recent long, dwindling hours of the lock down days caused by the devastating and tragic Covid-19 a particular emotion has gripped the nation- the world, in fact- that has led to a strange discovery. Aside from the obvious and understandable fear that has clamped down on everybody of the deadly coronavirus that has rapidly spread across the globe like wildfire, there is another emotion festering underneath the surface of the general population... boredom!

A lazy, nonchalant boredom which has lingered in the air for the long duration of confinement. With restrictions aplenty and many jobs temporarily put on hold, lock down meant many were left at home -not allowed to leave for the foreseeable future- with no idea of what to do or how to fill the time. In other words: bored. And although boredom is... well, boring... I've discovered over the course of the (seemingly never-ending) time we spent confined in our homes that boredom is actually a very useful and productive tool. 

Of course, it goes without saying that lock down was an extremely stressful time for everyone and nobody should have felt pressurised to be constantly creating or producing or thinking. The most important aspect of lock down (or any other difficult, emotional experience) should be centred on people's safety and mental health. Also many had important priorities that needed to be placed at the top of the to-do list such as home-schooling, working from home, caring for family, ect. Yet there was still a massive percentage of the nation who felt bored in lock down, who regularly found themselves splayed on the sofa having previously exhausted all viable television options showing, repeating the glum mantra of 'I'm so bored, I have nothing to do,I'm so BORED, there's absolutely nothing to do'. 

Previously I would've found this boredom challenging and tedious, allowing it to accumulate into an angry ball of sadness and frustration in the pit of my stomach which would leave me restless and unsatisfied for the rest of the day. But now I have come to see boredom for what it really is: a trusty ally, an old pal, a buddy to lean on in times of need. For it is out of boredom that some of the world's most amazing, inspiring creations have been born. Art and music and fashion and books all synonymous with their their common catalyst. The tiny, flickering ember of boredom nagging away at a person until suddenly it triggers a reaction (an abrupt and magical chemical collision of sorts) and a flame is ignited, eventually morphing into a roaring fire of passion and creativity. Boredom spurs us on. It encourages us to be creative, to sing, to dance, to draw, to write. The problem is that boredom is often seen as a bad thing to try and avoid but this just simply isn't the case. In fact it is such a wondrous device of creation that it's a shock so many go out of their way to prevent it! 

Now that we're out of confinement boredom may not be such a frequent emotion that we're faced with. However it will undoubtedly still play some sort of role in our lives, occasionally cropping up from time to time. I think it's important to remember the way that boredom can be positively manifested and used for the better. Rather than just a swirling whirlwind of impending doom, pent-up anger and burning hot hopelessness it is one of the most powerful tools we have, as humans, in our inventory. Next time the cold beast of boredom hits us in the face and attempts to stare us down with it's dead, glazed eyes we mustn't run away screaming. Instead we should stand our ground and question 'what could I do with this time instead of spiralling into a boredom-fuelled existential dread?' and then we should do that thing, whatever it may be: gardening or baking or cycling or painting or writing a letter to your Gran or choreographing a complicated dance routine to the theme tune of the great British bake off. Than we can glance back at the cold beast of boredom and realise in retrospect that all along the beast was actually a cute, fluffy, baby dragon that only ever wanted to help us out in the first place by secretly coercing us into doing something positive with our time.

In short boredom is seen as scary when really it's an incredibly useful, positive tool when dealt with wisely. 

By Frances Hudson

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