Ban Boredom? Yes, Please.

“I’m soooo bored.”

I don’t think I can name another utterance that annoys me more than this one. And that long, droning “sooooo” stuck in there, adding insult to injury.

The question that shall not be asked.

I admit it. I’m tough on boredom. Chalk it up to years as an only child in the 70s, spent solo in the backyard of wherever we happened to be living at the time. Boredom was not an option for me. I was an overachiever in my solitude.

There it is. It comes at me, shrouded in discontent and accompanied by the queen of all eyerolls.

“I’m soooo bored.”

Full disclosure: I was rarely bored as a kid. I just didn’t see the point. Tired, distracted, all valid things. But who can be bored in a world filled with so much to do? Who can be bored when there are five million books sitting in a library waiting to be read? Who can be bored when watching the sky reveals a 3-act drama: circling birds of prey, jets headed for the airport, and clouds, dancing darkly before a rain? I was blessed with curiosity and encouraged to ask questions. So many–some would say too many–questions.   

Plus, I did stuff.

Shooting hoops and playing 7-Up with a red dodge ball.

Swinging so high in an attempt to completely circumnavigate the all-metal, hideously dangerous and shaky swing set’s top bar.

Singing. Dancing (yes, by myself). Inventing entire worlds inside my head and talking to myself in different voices.

Invading the library to borrow every biography and mystery book I could find.

Tape-recording the radio with my most prized possession, a cassette recorder.

Writing long, rambling letters to my penpal in Singapore (a match made by the Big Blue Marble show on public TV back then).

Summer is the best possible time to consider boredom. We don’t give our kids much chance to be bored: they work, play tennis and swim on teams with their friends, and read/do homework as needed. They stream TV shows. They play XBox and ride their bikes or skateboard as needed. They even cook and they definitely clean up the dishes and under their beds. Or else. But we actually DO have a ban on these dastardly words:

“I’m soooo bored.”

To be fair, I’m not saying that feelings of boredom don’t occasionally descend upon everyone. But just a ho-hum here, a deep sigh there. To stay in perpetual state of “what now?” and “what’s next?” is frustrating. There is “soooo” much to see and taste and hear and touch. Is anyone really paying attention? Who’s got a sense of gratitude for what we do have?

For me, boredom is like blank space and it’s our job to fill it. Rather than diving into the empty black hole–I choose to see possibility. 

Next time you or someone close to you says, “I’m soooo bored,” here’s a suggestion. Give them the dramatic eye roll. Sure, boredom may be in the eyes of the beholder, but there are many ways to dodge it. 

Start here. Right now. Let your mind wander. Really look at a tree. Flip through a book on the shelf. Tune into a music station you’ve never heard, with music you’ve never considered like “country” or “opera.” Observe. Recognize your own patience. Dream. Doodle. Imagine what it would be like to be a kid or an adult halfway across the world living in abject poverty. Think about how everything can be different: weather, language, clothing, buildings, families. Let your thoughts connect like links on a chain.

Remember that being along ain’t all bad if you make up the rules on your own. And finding new friends can be the most wonderful (albeit challenging) scavenger hunt of all. 

And most importantly: all this does not mean you have to stay full-speed busy, never slowing down or stopping. No way! Banning boredom is more about banning our disconnect from the world around us.

Banning boredom. It’s a thing. So, Snap, Insta, make a mega-meme outta THAT.

Just pass it on, people.