I wasn’t allowed to be bored as a little kid. My mom didn’t let me. The few times I said I was bored at school, she replied with, “You’re not bored. There is always something you can learn.” If I ever said I was bored at home, she would say, “You’re never bored. There is always something you can do.” Convenient how she always knew whether I was bored or not, huh?
It turns out that my mom is very wise.
Thanks to my mom, I have been lucky enough to spend almost my entire life without getting bored, and let me tell you that life is indeed wonderful when you are not bored. It is constantly fascinating. You should try it some time if you are someone who tends to find things boring.
I was reminded of my mom’s advice this week when I ran across this photo from the TV show Louie: “The fact that you are alive is amazing, so you don’t get to be bored.” Yep. But are you amazed that you are alive? Do you spend each day in awe of the fact that God created you and gave you a mind with the ability to even know you exist?
Or do you find your life dull and ordinary? It seems to me that we live in a world that enables us to be bored. Facebook scrolls on forever. Netflix automatically loads the next episode of Parks and Recreation. Boredom doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing to do, but rather that you live with the perception that you have nothing better or more interesting to do than let your eyes glaze in front of your computer screen, your television screen, your phone screen…
I fall into this trap sometimes. My life gets dull, but then when I think about why, I realize it’s because I’m mindlessly watching Parks and Rec for a third time when I could be learning something new for the first time.
I’m only as bored as I let myself think I am.
(I know, I know, technology is neither bad nor boring. And yes, Parks and Rec is wonderful. But I think the problem with modern technology is that it has an almost supernatural ability to take our engaged enjoyment of something fun and turn it into something mindless and… sad. Are you really enjoying that video game? Or are you just playing it because doing anything else requires too much effort and energy?)
I just finished reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. It was a beautiful and fascinating book, but you probably shouldn’t read it if you tend to find things boring. In the book, Annie Dillard makes all sorts of observations about God and life by watching the spiders in her window and the birds in her tree and the muskrats under the bridge and the amoebas under her microscope. Every creature fascinates her. Nothing bores her. All of life has a lesson to teach.
I found myself carried along in her wonder and excitement. I have been looking for the fascinating things she talked about, the things that are around me everyday but always go unnoticed by my eyes that are so trained to focus on only the ordinary, on only the been-seen-before.
I saw a weird bug outside last week. It was orange and black and liked to do funny little dances on the side of a tree. I watched it for like ten minutes and never got bored. I still don’t know what it was.
Every day I want to explore more of this world that I have seen “none percent of.” Part of that will of course involve traveling to new places as often as I can to see what I haven’t yet seen. Many people have asked how I traveled around in the UK by myself for two weeks. I think they assume I got bored and lonely. But how could I, when there was so much to see that I had never seen before? How could I be bored when I was constantly grinning like an idiot because everything I saw was so fresh, and I felt so happy to be alive and seeing it?
But even more of exploring this world will mean seeing the world that I live in everyday with eyes of fascination and wonder. I have a backyard. What are the spiders doing out there right now? I have too many books. They have so much to teach me. I have a hammock in my backyard. I can read my too-many books in it and watch the life that goes on every moment in the tree above me and fight mosquitos and then run inside and itch. I work with people. People are not boring. People are always unique, always new. I work for God. There is always something I can do.
Let me leave you with the advice my mom gave me: You aren’t bored. You are amazingly alive in a world you have seen none percent of. There is always something you can learn. There is always something you can do. So quit reading my blog and get off the computer and go do it.