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Column: The art of being bored

Photo by William Craine.

A six-week winter break was quite the adventure for some of us. I met people who worked over the break, some went on a nice vacation to a land warmer than this frigid wasteland, some took classes in Peoria and some did absolutely nothing.

I was among the latter, bumming around downtown Chicago – ice skating, cooking, eating sushi and exploring places I’ve never been. Like many of us though, I encountered some days where the weather was not cooperating. The 4:40 p.m. sunsets dampened the day,
and it seemed like I had done everything in the world and there was nothing left to fill up the six week paradise of no school.

It was on these days that I came across a specific point in time. It’s these times where you have nothing to do. No homework, work and all your friends are either on vacation or spending time with out-of-town family.

You look at your phone screen and it’s a poisonous site. Netflix, Hulu and HBO aren’t sporting a show you want to watch (that’s an overstatement; they’re made to have something you want to watch, but let’s pretend they don’t).

These moments are the moments of pure boredom.

At second glance, however, these are probably the most important moments of human history. Thousands of years ago, cavemen were probably bored out of their mind, hitting rocks and sticks together until they saw sparks. Could fire have been discovered out of sheer boredom?

Could light bulbs, telephones or the printing press been invented because Edison, Bell and Gutenberg didn’t have anything better to do? Possibly! They didn’t have television or smartphones to distract them.

I’m channeling my inner old man when I say this: nowadays, we don’t have a simple minute to stop thinking. Every ting, bing and chime that recoils from our phones prevent us from exploring our personal and creative in-depth thoughts.

Ironically, the very television shows and movies we watch in the meantime could have been conceived when the creator was bored lying in bed. I was so bored one time over winter break I decided to write this column.

It’s these moments when we resort to our phones, the Internet and Facebook that prevent us from indulging in our own fantasy, creative potential or analytical thinking.

Boredom isn’t about doing the least amount of work possible. Boredom is when you have to think and create an idea authentically from your head. Imagine being stuck in a car for six hours with no phones, electronics or any means of entertainment besides a road map (if you need help visualizing this, please call your baby boomer grandparents if you can).

What do you do? How will

you pass the time? Will you play a game, have a philosophical conversation or write a column for your school newspaper?
What will you think of in those moments of time when you are left with nothing but your own thoughts?

While we spent this past Wednesday inside, surviving the cold, what did you do besides homework? It was prime boredom time! It’s these moments that you can connect with yourself, decide what you want to do with your life, think of an idea that blows your marketing teacher away or create a cool drawing that paralyze your art professor with awe.

We are rarely blessed with these moments; the moments to do absolutely nothing. And out of that nothing can come amazing things.
Be the first light that casts upon a dark problem. Use your time to the best extent and I’m guessing you will discover a passionate fire within yourself.

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.