I’d love your input on this in comments below: how do you respond when someone around you says “I’m bored”?
I ask because this is something my boyfriend Justin does, a lot, and I honestly don’t know what to say to him every time he does it. Being “bored” is such an alien concept to me, that I just don’t know how to respond to Justin.
I can say with complete faith that I have never in my life said, “I’m bored”.
When I was in grade school, I clearly remember the nuns scolding a classmate for calling something boring. I think it was Sr. Francis Borgia, the sweet, plump, elderly white-haired nun in the most medieval habit imaginable who lectured us on the laziness inherent to “boredom” and how only people without imaginations are ever “bored”. I come close to imagining her breaking into a little song and magically dancing around the room while she educates us on the virtues of imagination, but that’s only because Sister taught me how to use my imagination properly to begin with. That’s why she, and the rest of the “ninja nuns” I had throughout grade school and high school remain forever etched in my mind and are often the go-to sources of wisdom when, 20-30 years later, I’m stymied by situations like this with Justin (who, incidentally, went to public school and never had any “ninja nuns” in his life).
This week, I forced myself to read Joe McGinniss’ truly terrible book on Governor Palin, called “Searching for the Real Sarah Palin”. If the book had been a movie, I would have been searching for the nearest exit and the quickest path to the ticket counter to ask for my money back. It was terrible, and a painful slog to get through, and I must admit it felt more like 3,000 pages than 300, but I can’t say I was “bored” during any of it. Repulsed, disgusted, and amazed this man has not yet been sued by the Governor…but never bored, despite the tedium of reading through his delusional rantings.
McGinniss rambled on for whole chapters, making little sense, and describing in detail putting together a gas grill so he could cook fish outside and watch waterfowl called “grebes” sit on lily pads in the water. His prose was amateur — like reading a third grader’s creative writing assignment — but I still did my best to picture the lake, the “grebes”, the gas grill, and the antlered, toothsome, bloodthirsty Wendigo I know just had to be crouching in the woods just off his deck waiting to much on McGinniss once he’d polished off his grilled trout (with would have made him an Alaskan version of a “turduckin”, him being a jackass chock full of lies stuffed to the gills with fish, or a “McGinniss” for short).
Whenever I read anything, no matter how talentless the author or dry the material, I can always conjure a visual that keeps me entertained, if not enthused, with the material in front of me.
It’s the same with doing any task at hand…if it’s not interesting in its own, I make a game of it for myself, even if it’s just a race to see how fast I can clean the fridge or wash the dishes (to see if I can break my last, best time).
I grew up an only child whose parents left him to his own devices most of the time. I had a dog that was always my buddy, and I had lots of school friends always coming over (when I wasn’t playing at their houses), but I guess as an only child I never counted on anyone to entertain me so in times when I had to buckle down and do something I didn’t especially enjoy, I always had my imagination to keep me company and enliven things.
Justin can’t do this.
He either needs his Ipod to listen to music, or he needs YouTube videos up, or he needs me to keep him entertained and/or focused on something he thinks is “boring” if he’s ever going to do it.
I have to tell you, it kind of horrifies me a little when Justin says “I’m bored!” or “this is SO BORING”. It’s not a deal-breaker in our relationship by any means, but I react to it the same way I would if I caught him clipping his toenails by biting them with his toes drawn up to his mouth (with I actually caught an ex doing once, coincidentally not long before we broke up for good).
I tried telling Justin about what Sr. Francis Borgia said about “boredom”, but tales from Cleveland are never received well by Justin (who I think is secretly jealous of the wonders of my home town on the Cuyahoga) and any stories from my past that begin with “Sister So-and-So always said” are deemed “BORING!” by Justin by nature of including septuagenarian nuns in them.
I have a very good friend with a very sweet, otherwise well-behaved six year old daughter who actually screams and cries when she’s “bored”. Once, when babysitting her, I heard wails coming from the living room while I was making lunch and I thought someone had broken into the apartment and hurt her, but instead April was just sitting there, with her coloring books and crayons laying in front of her alongside a bag full of toys her mom left at my place…and she was crying and screaming “I’m bored! I’m bored! I’m BORED!”.
I didn’t know what to do with her, and I don’t know what to do with Justin either, because “boredom” is such an alien concept to me.
Can you offer any advice on how you handle this when you encounter people in your own lives who claim they’re “bored”?
Do you understand what the nuns taught me, about making anything you are doing interesting and using the intellect and imagination God gave you to enhance and enliven everything you do?
© 2011, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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