When I was a child, I remember numerous times moaning to my Mum that I was bored. She’d always answer with the same thing – “that’s nice” or “go and find something to do then”. So we did. My siblings and I would go and play teachers with pens and paper. Claire and I would play stables in the garden being horses. We published a fairy newspaper and created weekly matinees of musical versions of Aladdin. I’d play interior designers and create a dream house I’d want to live in. The boys would choreograph some new fighting scene with Kung Foo kicks off the sofa (often to the demise of various household ornaments). When we were bored, it turned out that we could be quite resourceful.
We can fear boredom and see it as a negative thing. When we’re bored, we reach for some kind of entertainment to see us through – a TV screen, or a mobile device or a slew of other devices to fill us with amusement and fill the void. We consume avidly to erase boredom. But boredom is the impetus to creativity.
The creator of Gilbert, the U.S. Comic Strip, wrote this “I make a living being creative and have always assumed that my potential was inherited from my parents. But for allowing my creativity to flourish, I have to credit the soul-crushing boredom of my childhood.”
My best ideas and thoughts and notions come when I’m bored; an idea for my work, a project at home, a creative piece for a Sunday. When I’m in the shower or running or lying in bed trying to get to sleep, when my mind isn’t stimulated by the constant stream of our technology soaked culture.
But do I like being bored? No. I’m all “go, go, go! don’t dilly dally, get a move on!”. If I’m standing in line or waiting for a meeting, I’ll reach for my phone to check emails or swipe through social media. If I’m driving the car, I’ll put on some music or a podcast. Erase the boredom, only boring people get bored.