Boredom isn’t all bad.
Recently I’ve been finding myself increasingly boring.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been meditating more, or not dating, or letting go of my entanglements with women, or because of the quarantine. Or maybe it’s because I’ve actually been pretty boring all along and I just haven’t noticed it.
Why Cool People Are So Cool and I Am Not
Often when we think about being boring it seems like a judgment. Good people, cool people, interesting people aren’t boring. In fact, they are the opposite.
Interesting people are always thinking interesting thoughts, going to cool events, hanging out with interesting people, and having cool conversations about all the interesting thoughts they think and the cool events they’re going to attend.
So we try to be interesting because being boring is bad. But why is it bad?
The Mind of a Child
One of the first things I learned as a preschool teacher was to always give my kids something to do when we stood in line to go to the bathroom or get into the playground.
We sang baby shark, or 5 little ducks, or any number of songs that helped them focus on something other than waiting to do something. Because waiting is boring and bored kids become restless and start hitting each other and crying.
And when we’re honest we see that our own minds are like little kids. Boredom is seen as bad because when we’re bored our minds get restless. We stop being able to avoid what it’s doing and what’s underneath our thinking.
Put me in a line for a few minutes and I’ll think about what I’m doing later, check out the cute barista behind the coffee bar and then try to think of something clever to say. (Recently I’ve been noticing the alarming amount of mental capacity I’ve devoted to finding something clever to say to women).
I will do almost anything to stop myself from being intimate with what is happening because I don’t like what shows up.
When I slow down I feel the depth of rush I can live in from time to time, my loneliness, my heartbreak and longing, my fear and anxiety, and everything else that lurks in the shadows.
When I get present, I feel the people around me. Their deep desire to love, be seen, and be understood. And the tremendous gap many of them feel but operate on top of.
Sure I have my zen moments. Breathtaking sounds of a bird. The simple curves of steam rising from a cup. yadda yadda…
But mixed in with all that magic is my own sweet suffering. No wonder I don’t want to be intimate with all of that.
I’m So Boring
The more I watch myself, the more I see how boring I truly am. How the same obsessive thoughts, the same cycle of desire and fantasy, the same tragedies, the same dreams of freedom, play over and over again in my mind.
The more I see all of this, the more I’m asked to love myself. Not as the incredibly interesting, funny, wise, confident, brilliant, loving man I want the world to see. But rather as the arrogant, needy, horny, bored, frustrated, tantrum-throwing man, I would rather wish I could shuffle off.
Boredom Breeds Humility
Being intimate with yourself is extremely challenging. Because you don’t simply see what you curate for the world, you see all of you. And you either like it or you don’t.
As TS Eliot says
“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.”
Being intimate with yourself is incredibly humbling. Which is why most of us would prefer to avoid it entirely.