The Bright Side of Boredom

When we begin to embrace boredom, we can let go of the pressure to achieve or excite, and simply rest in the moment.

Roman Stetsyk/Adobe Stock

My mother, like so many mothers, must have gone crazy from hearing the refrain over and over and over again: 

“Mom, I’m bored.”

My oldest brother, helping our dad in our vegetable garden, asked after about five minutes, “Dad, do you still have to keep working after you’re bored?” My dad found this particularly amusing, since he was an HR manager who dealt with adults struggling with the same question.

Boredom was for me a state truly to be loathed, brought on by sitting in classes that dragged on with teachers who droned on. But it was generated equally by lazy summer days we had pined for but couldn’t seem to fill with enough entertainments. Why couldn’t life be a perpetual Disneyland?

As time went on, boredom seeped into relationships—it kicked in once you got past the early flush of excitement. It also became a signal feature at my early jobs. When I bagged groceries at the A&P (a once-august grocery chain that died a long, slow death), we had a three-foot-high clock on the wall, and I used to watch the minute hand just crawl, while I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.

Boredom was the enemy.…