Boredom is the goal

Boredom is the goal

If you’ve never been bored on vacation then you haven’t been gone long enough.

It’s strange to me that our modern world stigmatizes boredom as something to be avoided at all costs:  I don’t know if it is simply human nature; persistent “background radiation” from the Industrial Revolution’s drive for efficiency and productivity; the dark side of the Information Age manifesting as a generalized Fear Of Missing Out; a culture fueled by social acceptance and pressure to constantly engage, consume, and entertain; or an education system that frowns upon idle time and (gasp) committing the cardinal sin of not knowing what to do with the rest of your life and what college you will attend by the 6th grade – or perhaps it is a noxious elixir we ingest over a lifetime that combines all the above and more.

Could it be that instead idle time and “boredom” are the inflection points that inspires growth and achievement, that makes us question what we are doing and to seek after new and interesting avenues in life.

When going on vacation, I noticed that it takes me six or seven days to fully disconnect from responsibilities, start to slow down, and run out of initial “things to do” and “places to go”.  Unfortunately, often right at that point when idleness and entropy finally arrive, and I am starting to feel a tingle of boredom, it’s time to pack up and head back home; or even worse, someone else decides there are half a dozen other things we need to see and do, all crammed into whatever time remains.  Personally, to really get away and enjoy time off, a one week vacation is not enough time.

Unless I’m able to be gone long enough for my mind to start seeking it’s own diversion– for enough time to have passed for people to figure out they can get along without me, and there is nothing pressing or urgent or that I’m expected to participate in; that is when I start to have interesting ideas, when I stop thinking about the past and present, when I engage in conversations with myself and with others that are deeper and more meaningful, when inspiration strikes, when seemingly random thoughts become orderly and connected, when the universe and my place in it becomes just a little bit clearer.

In short, that is when I become bored, and that boredom is my gateway to new worlds and new opportunities. So the next time you take a vacation, make it a longer one, one with less places to go, less people to communicate with, less things to do and see. Who knows? You may find yourself pleasantly bored.

Just an idea.

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Eric Ramos |
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