Boredom is much maligned around these parts, but boredom is a useful emotion.   (I certainly am not defending those who say, “I’m bored” and then wait for the universe to provide novelty – the sensation of boredom, however, is worth exploring).

Boredom, or the craving for novelty, is what starts people doing and learning new things.  I, personally, am forever getting an itch to do something different or learn something new.   And what has that got me, you ask?

One year I learned to bake bread, properly.  And I baked so much bread I provided 75% of my family’s bread that year.

One year I decided to stop being afraid of pastry – and learned to make a mean pie.

One year I decided to try my hand at tailoring.

This year it was making corsets.

There was the year I did a proper double-dug garden – in heavy clay.  (I was younger then, but yes – I really did, two feet deep and properly fluffed, every inch).

For me, boredom is the push that makes the difference between, “I’d like to learn about that someday” and “Today is a good day to start”.  If I was perfectly content doing the same things over and over and over… I’d be the same person I was decades ago.  And wouldn’t *that* be dreadful.

Some people find that travel satisfies that itch.  They have to see what’s on the far side of the hill.  And why not?  We need explorers.  We need people who like to bring back novelties to those at home.  

Some people find that serious study satisfies the itch.  They start learning about insects and never stop… sometimes those people make interesting discoveries.  Until the last century or so, most scientists were rich and bored – or monks and bored.  The room to work with, the room to explore… time to “waste” that becomes time not in the least wasted.  The ability to try new things.  

Boredom isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t a bad thing at all.  It’s only bad when you don’t see it as a push to open new doors in life.  There are always new things to do, new things to learn, new things to see, new things to experience, new things to contribute to the world around you.  

It’s only a bad thing when you stop at, “I’m bored” and don’t go on to, “Well, now what?”  No one else can satisfy that itch, you’re just going to have to get off the couch and do something.

Carpe diem!  Let’s go find a rock to turn over, shall we?  -grin-

12 thoughts on “Boredom

  1. Maeve

    I think sometimes people confuse boredom with restlessness. They’re not quite the same but both can be used as a springboard for expanding ourselves. All too often, however, we may thing that in order to grow, we must shed what we have – and sadly, relationships are often lumped in there as well, almost as though they’re bad habits holding us back.

    1. hearthie Post author

      People should be encouraged to expand themselves. I just don’t get the idea that learning and growing should come to a screeching halt because we don’t happen to be in school any longer. It’s utterly foreign to me and somewhat offensive.

  2. Elspeth

    I think Maeve is on to something with the distinction between boredom and restlessness. Although they might be two sides of the same coin.

    and then, there is the very real problem of our culture’s active discouragement of anything that demands we get out of our comfort zones and do the work required to learn something new.

    1. hearthie Post author

      You just don’t want to get me started about “crafting” for lazy people who don’t want to learn to make nice things. You don’t. I worked at Michael’s for two years in junior college. -shudder-

    2. Maeve

      One thing I’ve noticed is that boredom can actually be addressed fairly simply – it’s not so much a need for something “new”, as it is for something to do (which may or may not be something new). Restlessness, on the other hand, is more complicated. I think it often has emotional or even a spiritual component; and it often includes a sense of dissatisfaction, which is not necessarily present with boredom. I don’t have all my thoughts together on this – will need to think on it some more.

      1. hearthie Post author

        Well, if we can’t talk on one another’s blogs and figure out what we mean, what are comment boxes for anyway? Sort away, my dear!

        I’m going to be difficult about this because I come from a long line of people who got bored or restless and then did stuff with it. I’ll not defend people who whine about being bored, but get bored and change the world – or at least YOUR world? Yep.

      2. Maeve

        I agree with you, Hearthie, but I guess I’m more thinking that there are people who find themselves in a state of dissatisfaction of some sort – or even a type of restlessness – and they call it boredom. It’s not really that. It’s not a lack of something to do. It’s indicative of some other “lack”. All too often, we call it boredom and then find that it’s not overcome – because “not having something to do” isn’t the problem – “something’s missing” is maybe more like it – and that requires some introspection. I’m still floundering here with this.

      3. hearthie Post author

        Keep floundering away. That’s how we figure out what we’re thinking. (Or how I do).

        I agree about the state of dissatisfaction. Or some other state that we’re mislabeling.

        I am very probably one of the most introspective people on the planet, and I’ll sort through my mental trash on the regular – because so often things are mislabeled and you have to look carefully to see what’s really there… and what you ought to do about it.

        When I am “bored” – it usually means I need more challenge in my life, or I’ve collected too many plates to spin in lieu of challenging myself by working in one particular direction. (A favorite of every woman I’ve ever met).

        Either that or I’m waiting for someone else to do something so that I can do what I need to do. That last can be hard.

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