I recently went on a long road trip with my wife and son to Banff National Park in Canada. It’s a 12-hour drive that we split into two days. As part of our agreement with him, he would stay off electronics for the entire week if we promised to buy him a stuffed animal. As exciting as it was for him to think about his upcoming stuffie, he would constantly remind us of how dull the drive was by stating, “I’m bored!”
This state of boredom made me reflect on our need for constant stimulation. It’s hard to disconnect from social media, email, the Internet, streaming movies, music, or any other form of infotainment. Man’s need for boredom has been eclipsed by our desire to be constantly connected. I myself am guilty of this. I was quite peeved when there were long stretches where I lost cell service. My favorite music was no longer available. The radio couldn’t pick up any local stations. I, like my son, was faced to confront boredom.
Instead of seeing it as a negative state, I used boredom as a means to think and foster my own creativity. At one point, I talked non-stop to my wife for at least three hours. She didn’t say much as she mentioned it sounded like I was brainstorming and was enjoying the process. Upon reflection, the boredom was a catalyst for more personal reflection. I was able to get in closer touch with my inner self. I won’t say there were any major epiphanies that came from this experience, but it did make me cherish the quiet time to just ponder and reflect.
In addition to driving, there were several opportunities where we went to a few popular lakes and sat by ourselves to just let our minds wander. That was another opportunity where doing nothing was quite beneficial. The space to not have to worry or think about anything allowed me to enjoy the moment. Besides taking in the natural beauty, I came away thirsting for more moments like these. I want more moments away from the city where I can just be with myself, my thoughts, and yes, my boredom.
Boredom allowed emptiness to take hold. With the emptiness, I was open to spirituality. Like an empty cup, I was waiting to be filled with the messages the universe wanted to offer me. As I waited, the messages eventually materialized. “Be in awe of the majesty around you.” “Be grateful for your health since you can hike and bike to these places.” “Find ways to give this gift of outdoor appreciation to others.”
Having since returned home, I’m back into my routine of work and life. Yet, there’s a part of the trip that is still within. That part continues to whisper, “Go out and be bored. For in your boredom, you will find more of yourself.” In this vein, my next goal is to go on a silent retreat but until then I will embrace boredom and look for ways to bring boredom back to my daily life.