the case for boredom

I had a Covid test last week. (It was negative, thanks for asking.)

The wait at the doctor’s office was close to two hours and with every person who came in after me, the wait got longer and longer. “It’ll be about four hours,” the receptionist told a woman who’d brought her four kids in for tests as I sat in the waiting room.

Everyone around me, spread six feet apart in the waiting room, was on their cell phone. Scrolling, scrolling scrolling, scrolling. The room was silent, but not in a good way.

I make an effort to spend as little time on my phone as possible. I’m not sure my brain can keep up with having a supercomputer tickle its nerves every moment of every day. Biologically, I’m just not evolved enough. I don’t think any of us are.

If nature teaches us anything, it’s that there are seasons of expansion and contraction. The flowers and trees go into a state of hibernation as winter comes. Purging fire cleanse the forests and promote new growth. Our brains work the same way. We can’t allow our brains to be activated and engaged incessantly. Our minds need rest.

This is why boredom is so necessary. It allows the mind to reset itself, to disengage and wander aimlessly. Doing so allows the imagination to take the wheel, ideas to spring forth, and thoughts to relax themselves.

It takes practice, but boredom, as uncomfortable as it can be, is an essential part of piloting your mind.

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