I relish words of wisdom from old-time friends.
Yesterday, I received a gem of an email from Kerry Nelson of Lowry. At the time he sent it, he was being wowed by the fall foliage near Hibbing. Like me, Kerry feels happiest and liveliest in the fall.
He wrote this:
“You know, I have never understood it when people say they are bored. Good Lord, people, there is SO MUCH to read, learn and experience in life. And, if all else fails, volunteer somewhere and help people instead of focusing on YOU. Bored is a word I will never understand.”
When I first read that, I thought to myself, “Well, obviously, lucky Kerry is not a reporter and so he’s never had to sit through and cover hours of boring board meetings (one time an eight-hour school-board meeting), during which some members enjoyed hearing themselves mumble on and on and . . . That kind of boredom can make you old before your time.
During some of those kinds of meetings, I was so bored I felt as if I’d been condemned to 10 to 20 years in Purgatory. Other than that, however, I can happily say, along with Kerry, I do not understand why people become bored. That doesn’t mean I’m Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky all the time. Far from it. Life is filled with worries, disappointments, sorrows and pains, but I still don’t feel bored or defeated. Challenges can energize me. Cancer is one such challenge, as Kerry well knows, having battled cancer twice – and won. A serious health problem can be a teacher, if you let it. And one big lesson it teaches is never to let yourself become bored. Many people, facing a terminal illness, would give anything to have more time to do more activities – what some now call a “bucket list.” They know all too well how boredom is a waste of time, a kind of hang-dog luxury of spoiled people.
Boredom is a form of giving up, of disconnectedness, of not wanting to be engaged in life and in the moment. When you come right down to it, boredom is really a form of laziness.
People who never develop any inner resources tend to be bored. They depend upon others for their amusements. They tend to be dependent rather than independent. The inner resources I mean include imagination, curiosity, a keen interest in people, a sense of humor and – most of all – a passionate connectedness to life and everything in it, the good and even some of the not-so-good.
I’m fortunate because I’ve always known people who were almost never bored. Their passion for living inspired me. Two examples are Ed and Helen Kuba, a couple I worked with for many years. In the year 2000, they retired, bought a big travel unit and set out to see the United States, every nook and cranny of it. They just stopped in for a visit last week. After 12 years, they are still traveling, still helping others, still intensely committed to each other and to their long love affair with life. Their on-the-road stories are spellbinding. You’ll never hear the Kubas complain about being bored.
The surest cure for boredom is to internalize the fact we are all mortal. Picture your life as that proverbial hourglass with sand slipping through it, running out. With a renewed appreciation of time – of every precious moment of it – you’ll be able to enjoy, as if for the first time, the glorious colors of autumn leaves, the bittersweet contemplation of times past and, yes, even that slowed-down time while sitting by a window on a melancholy rainy afternoon.
Connect with life moment to transient moment, and that old bugaboo, boredom, will vanish.