I’m not often bored; however sometimes a state of tedium does overtake me and nothing I do can shake it. I feel like Sherlock when he lacks an interesting case to exercise his brain; like Sherlock I would probably fire some bullets into the wall if I could get away with it:
but my inner Mrs Hudson heads off any such activity (not to mention that I don’t own a gun) so I am reduced to pacing up and down and sighing. Deeply.
However, as my wiser self well knows, boredom is not so much the lack of interest as a lack of being interested. And whereas when I was a child I often suffered excruciating boredom through, for example, having to sit through three services every Sunday, nowadays I am rarely bored – just so long as I have a notebook and a pen. Because no matter how dull the situation, there is always something interesting in it: and the something interesting usually lies in describing it. Suppose I’m stuck in a particularly dull lecture where to walk out would be either rude or impractical. I amuse myself by describing the situation: first, my own sensations, then the voice and demeanour of the speaker, then the surroundings and then, most interesting of all, the reactions of the audience. If I have long enough I can work up quite a good blog post on the topic, and that’s a portion of my day’s work done.
But often being bored is not so much about what’s happening outside as what’s occurring inside. I find myself unable to take an interest in anything that has previously absorbed me. All my books are dull. TV is dull. There’s nothing on Netflix, nothing at the cinema, I don’t want to go for a walk, the guitar is tedious and I’m fed up with sewing. Quite simply nothing engages my interest because my interest is not ready to be engaged. But just as we found with the children that the best response to ‘I’m bored’ was ‘I’m sure you’ll find something to do’, so rather than bombarding the brain with possible toys I allow it just to be bored. Boredom is the mental equivalent of fallow ground: it is necessary to the creative brain, and often my best ideas come after a period of boredom.
Mind you, I don’t go to the lengths that Graham Greene did: he made life more interesting by playing Russian roulette:
So there it is. Sorry you’ve been subjected to this, but I hope the post was more bored than boring.