“Embrace Boredom”. A seemingly benign phrase and a seemingly simple task. Right?
Not so much. I am currently reading the book, ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport, a young author who seems to be doing a lot of things right on the productivity scale. One of the chapters of this book is literally called “Embrace Boredom”. At first sight, I chuckled at the title and then realized as I am reading through, it is not so easy- not in this day and age. He cites that the moment we are left alone, waiting in line, in between appointments, etc, we turn to our phones. We rarely leave ourselves the space to pause without devices and look around, let our imagination wander or even turn to the person by us and strike up a conversation if the circumstance affords that. He is SO right.
I am one of the humans on the face of the earth who was introduced to the digital age well past my thirties. Hard to imagine that half of my life was spent without a smart phone or anything digital for that matter. Seems like ancient times, but it’s really not. Since then, I, like so many of us rely heavily on my phone- appointments, information, calls, texts, emails, and so on. I don’t have any apps beyond the standard- so there are no games, or network shows on my phone. Still, it is a big part of how I get through my day.
I remember times when I would be bored- though never for long. We were allowed that space to look around, meet and speak with folks around you, read, write, create, and of course, practice the piano. Boredom then, somehow turned into productivity. Not always disguised as a list of tasks to accomplish- but the ability to ‘task our humanness’.
The point that Cal Newport is making in his chapter about bored is that we need to get back to that pace of ‘tasking our humanness’. My fear is that we are losing the ability to do that- as simple as it seems. Why am I so captured by all this as it relates to my work with Simple Gift Series. Well, here it is. We need to pause and make time for that task and allow our children to have that experience. To have the space and time to look around, wonder, ask questions, create with whatever is around them and just ‘BE’. It is not something that they are going to do on their own if they see our faces in our phones 99% of the day- not for a moment. They are going to observe and mimic. And let’s face it, when we see them entering into that moment of – God forbid- boredom, what do we do? We hand them a device and put something on that we distract and entertain them. Let someone or something else create what will ultimately become their tendencies.
So here it is- let your child be bored. In fact, join them in being bored. Before you hand them your phone, your computer or you, yourself put your head into your phone- look around, observe the world around you- even if you are in line at Taco Bell. Have conversations with them, create something together out of things around you, write a story together, write a song together. Demonstrate and allow boredom to manifest and who knows what will come out of it. I would venture to say, at the very least- would be memories. They grow up really quickly- so create them while you can.