Boredom is Good

Boredom…makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be.

Adam Phillips


This photo was taken by Chris Burkard.  With his phone!  I’ve been feeling feelings about this photo beyond thinking it is absolutely gorgeous since I saw it a week ago.  I think I figured out why.

I’ve always thought of myself as a person who doesn’t get bored but it’s not true. I’m constantly bored, just not for long.  I have an obsessive curiosity, a tendency to fall in love with things hard and intensely and thoroughly.  I’m a binger — binge watcher, binge listener, binge eater, binge reader, binge clicker.  But, I get full quickly.  The thing about bingeing is I realize sooner than I would if I wasn’t a binger how everything is pretty much the same.  I realize nothing is perfect or the answer to some unasked question I have. But, I continue the search and I always find something new to be curiously obsessed with.  I’m easily entertained.  Usually.

There are times (like the past week or so) when my boredom cannot be distracted. It’s uncomfortable.  But in retrospect these uncomfortable times are my favorite, most fun times.

Boredom allows (or forces) you to consider things you don’t (want to) consider when you’re entertained and distracted and busy and full.  The artichoke you’ve seen at the supermarket 10,000 times seems attractive to you and you buy it, roast it, and determine you don’t like artichokes.  Or you click on that link to a podcast when you haven’t listened to a podcast in 2 years and now you’ve found your new best friends.*  Or you watch a TV show you haven’t watched in 13 years and you fall in love with it again** and binge watch it.

Boredom forces you to open your mind.  It reminds you to that you don’t know everything and you definitely haven’t experienced everything.  It forces you to pay attention in a different way or as Susan Sontag put it:

Boredom is a function of attention. … if we become bored, we should ask if we are operating in the right frame of attention. Or — maybe we are operating in one right frame, where we should be operating in two simultaneously.

Obsession and certainty and being constantly distracted is like making a fist. Boredom forces you to open your hands.

And that’s why I like this photo so much.  I made it the background image of my computer’s desktop.  It’s a reminder to relax, float, unclench and receive.

This whole post was an excuse to post that photo.


*Call Your Girlfriend.

**Felicity.  If you love this show, let’s talk.


4 thoughts on “Boredom is Good

  1. Hey, I got really excited there reading this post. I’m a binger of everything too – probably not such an exciting revelation for you, but I literally just grasped this about myself yesterday! Anyway, I like what I’ve read of your blog so far. I’ll certainly be back to check out more


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