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Boredom

Bring back boredom. 

Boredom is a sweet abyss for some and increasingly terrifying for others.

It is a default mode for the brain…a potential state of rest. Boredom is a place where creativity can arise. In our speedy society, increasingly a phone screen is replacing this gap of nothingness.

Where we used to sit idle, slightly dreamy, bored, many are now on their phone. In this state of constant engagement, there is no rest for the brain. No spaciousness for creative ideas to arise out of daydreaming. What would happen if you just stood in that coffee line without looking at your screen? Maybe you would smile at a stranger, strike up a conversation with another human or just appreciate the slats of morning light raking across the floor through the big glass windows. Maybe this would be inspiring.

How is this increasing disconnect with our sensorial environment shaping our sweet sensitive children’s ability to play imaginatively and create things out of nothing? I say, let them be bored. Bored to tears. When the crying stops, I guarantee they will come up with something fantastic. This is how children have always developed their resourcefulness and creative, problem solving abilities…out of nothing…out of dreaming. What will become of kids who aren’t given any thoughtful boundaries regarding their use of technology? Will it stunt the potential of their creative minds, their ability to perceive and connect with the world around them?

When my daughter was an infant, it always amazed me to see the play stations people would install in front of their child’s car seat to entertain them. I know that bright contrasting colors and squeaky manipulatives are supposed to activate children. But in comparison to their bright colors, bells and mirrors we had nothing. She would just sit there and stare out the window or we’d talk about anything…she always came up with some very poignant observation. Maybe she would look at her hands. She always had sort of a dreamy look when we’d drive. No one was ever bored.

Over-stimulation and speed creates numbness to the subtle beauty of everyday life. Young children are inherently comfortable in the open space of spontaneously creating out of simplicity. How do we help ourselves and our tweens and teens recognize the numb seduction of distraction and JUST BE. Technology isn’t the problem. It is our relationship to it. 

Artists for centuries have connected with the quality of the physical world around them and through this connection created meaningful work, work that communicates their experience as humans on the planet earth. Artists can’t be distracted from their experience and make authentic work. Physical interaction and sensorial connectivity are basic human needs. How plugged in do we need to be and what is the price of this? 

Until next time, notice what happens when you resist the temptation to pull the phone out of your pocket. Notice what arises from the anxiety you might feel from nothingness. Once you get past this, my bet is that something you see, hear, smell or feel will inspire you. Take that spark, born from boredom and CREATE.