Posts Tagged ‘boredom’

Understanding people’s motivations and thoughts is an exercise of the imagination, and, like any exercise, becomes easier when you practice it consistently. For this reason, I like to imagine that I have become reasonably skilled in anticipating and understanding other people’s thought processes. But one mood that I have trouble comprehending is boredom. It’s like an idiom in another language that has no English equivalent – I can vaguely sense what it means, but I can’t really appreciate what it might refer to.

I know that I have been bored. But the last time that I was bored in the sense of not knowing what to do with myself, I was about five or six years old. I always have a variety of projects on the go (many, I admit, unfinished), to say nothing of books to read and music to hear. So, for me, the trouble is usually finding time to do everything I want, rather than looking for ways to fill time.

I have been too tired, as well, to do much. But that’s another state entirely. I also discount times that I have been content to just sit quietly, because when I do, I am enjoying being motionless and motiveless, or else enjoying the weather or the antics of the songbirds around me.

Nor am I bored with other people or circumstances, although sometimes I am impatient. I seem to possess all the curiosity of Raven the trickster, and I have no trouble mustering interest even about people I dislike or with whom I disagree. In fact, I rely heavily on other people to mention topics that I might not explore on my own to help take me out of myself.

Similarly, if I’m caught in a circumstance that I would prefer not to be in (say an excruciatingly long funeral service), I have more than enough mental resources that I can assume a polite facade while my mind wanders elsewhere. I’m not a prodigy who can play both sides of a chess game in my head, or solve quadratic equations in my mind (in fact, I barely remember what they are), but, if nothing else, I can usually observe people or plan articles in my head. I also have a very strong aural memory, and can replay dozens of songs or even conversations in my head almost as accurately as if I was listening to a sound file,and can amuse myself that way.

That’s not to say that I don’t want to avoid such circumstances as much as possible, and don’t try to minimize the time I spend in them, but I can tolerate them easily enough. Probably, I’m aided by having seen enough trauma and stress that I’ve learned to be phlegmatic about everyday upsets, but even when I was more innocent I never worried much about situations that other people would undoubtedly call boring.

All of which makes boredom a concept whose details are mysterious to me. So far as I can tell, it springs from the same source as recreational shopping, or nightly watching of network television – a lack of inner resources.

That sounds harsh, but I think the reason that boredom eludes me is that, for better or worse I have an active mind (which sounds more positive than saying that my thoughts jump around like drops of water on a hot frying pan). I surmise that at least some other people don’t have the same mental resources, and, as a result, often find themselves looking for something to do.

Some of them do find diversions, like one of my neighbors, who is always wandering forlornly around the townhouse complex looking for something to do (his latest project is trying to grow grass under the fir trees; so far, he hasn’t grasped why he fails). Others look without success, and find boredom sinking over them.

Or so I imagine. As I said at the start, I’m not the best person to ask. Despite being a man, I can imagine childbirth more readily than I can boredom.

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