Life Should Not Feel Like Killing Time
I managed to kick a habit: I no longer feel the need to compulsively watch TV shows as background noise whenever I am doing — anything at all actually. From working to washing up to taking a shower. I no longer feel the need to fill the void, to fill every part of my brain so I don’t have to think.
Suddenly, I’m not terrified of not being hyper-busy, anymore. Which really means that I’ve escaped from a life-long phobia: that of being bored.
Paradoxically, I’m in a place of stillness, a place of boredom. In the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains. There is little to do, the excitement of the city is far away, I can’t go to a new museum every day, nor follow it up with a new bar. I can’t go to the cinema, the swimming pool, the mall. It doesn’t matter, my time no longer feels like something I must fill, moments of stillness feel like drinking a cool glass of water, replenishing me, preparing me for times of activity. Activity feels useful, filled with intention — farming, cooking, writing.
Boredom reveals something deeper. It reveals that you are not supposed to be where you are, doing what you are doing. When you are in the right place, empty time doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a gift.
The problem is that our society’s work culture has taught us that it is normal to spend the best part of our lives doing things we don’t want to do, longing for office to be over, and then guarding the time we have left preciously, filling it with consumption, and activity. Our work culture is based on us selling, not our work or our skills, but our time.
We sometimes forget that our time is our life.
Of course, you can’t always escape your boredom. It is also deeply linked to forms of oppression that exist in our world. Many very mind-numbing jobs fall on the working classes: working at a check-out, or as a bouncer. Lower class areas are often cultural deserts, especially as austerity pushes governments and local councils across the western world to cut funding for the arts. This is also why, in some of the poorest areas, the greatest music and art is born. Because creativity feeds off adversity, and it feeds off boredom, too.
We need to listen to our boredom, it is telling us to do what is in our means to escape. That can mean physically, quitting a job, moving. Or if that isn’t possible, it can also mean creating, turning that boredom into art.