What is Boredom?
Bored – Weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in something.
Definition from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary
How is it possible for humans to be bored? We are equipped with the same code, producing the skills that have seen and risen to the incredible possibilities in Art, Literature and Science, for thousands of years. Most children are imbued with an unending curiosity over everything they see and hear, smell and taste.
Can we remember when the world was full of treasure troves, branches in the wood that made secret gardens, warlike lightning storms, scuttling deceptive mice, lizards and frogs, ice patterns on the windows and faces in the fireplace? A piece of chewing gum wrapper became a new variety of ammunition or decoration. Rustling paper and popping bags made surprises and crazy laughter.
Does boredom come from oppression? If, as children or adults, we are robbed of the chance to stretch the thing that has made humanity the great adaptors of the world, imagination, then maybe we are destined to suffer the torment of boredom. Can we find a way to re-energise our inner sight and relieve the tedium?
Are we oppressed by our lives, our work or the nature of society?
Has the speed and material desire of the modern world robbed us of an attention span of more than 30 seconds? Does boredom arise from the lack of at least three avenues of entertainment at all times?
Huge industries have grown up in a very short time, giving us video games, computers/Internet, mobile digital audio and video players and various fantastic toys. Every film seems intent on busting blocks. Every music concert or festival seeks to produce that heavenly thrill which will take us away from our dull lives for an instant.
Are we oppressed by the search for ecstasy?
If we are not to be bored, do we need some incredible and amazing thing or event to drag us from our unbearable lethargy?
Is it excitement versus boredom, or is it possible to maintain a balanced outlook on life that leads us to a state that we could refer to as “contentment”? What is boredom? Where does it lie? How can it be relieved?
There are a few quotes below on the subject, to get us thinking.
Most of all enjoy the discussion, both talking and listening and look after each other.
"Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true." – William Inge
"Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is" – Thomas S. Szasz
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour." – William Blake (from “Auguries of Innocence”)
"Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other." – Arthur Schopenhauer
"Grasp your opportunities, no matter how poor your health; nothing is worse for your health than boredom." – Mignon McLaughlin
"The war between being and nothingness is the underlying illness of the twentieth century. Boredom slays more of existence than war." – Norman Mailer
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." – Samuel Johnson (to James Boswell)
"Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away." – Walter Benjamin
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." – Ellen Parr (or possibly Dorothy Parker)
"Probably the difference between man and the monkeys is that the monkeys are merely bored, while man has boredom plus imagination." – Lin Yutang
"Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself." – Soren Kierkegaard
"Economics is a subject profoundly conducive to cliché, resonant with boredom. On few topics is an American audience so practiced in turning off its ears and minds. And none can say that the response is ill advised." – John Kenneth Galbraith
"It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better... while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more" – Woody Allen
"Boredom is... a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it." – Bertrand Russell
"All man's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room." – Blaise Pascal
"If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong" – Groucho Marx