Colors Of The Mind #7

The Need for Boredom

Make Life Worth Living (MLWL) is a project by Zaluso Arts whose goal is to explore and spark conversations about issues concerning mental health, through art.

Today i’m talking about boredom. I have a few comments on the different dimensions of it and I thought we might start to appreciate and consider it in different ways. For a while I know I certainly thought it was a bad thing and I wanted to avoid it all costs.

I can remember moments of boredom as a child. Moments of feeling as if I had nothing to stimulate myself and ended up exploring my parents room or picking up sticks outside and playing with my friends for entire afternoons. Nowa days boredom usually leads me to meet-up with friends for a drink, or searching for something to read or watch. The key thing here is that boredom led me to explore, to try something else. As Peter Toohey asserts in Boredom: A Lively History, “Boredom is, in the Darwinian sense, an adaptive emotion. Its purpose, that is, may be designed to help one flourish.“. We can run with that, and talk about how boredom is a necessary part of life and that we should allow it to propel us into exploration and adventure. Perhaps it is. but i think that would be ignoring other aspects of boredom.

There is a prevalent anxiety about boredom; we are afraid of seeming to be doing nothing or seeming to not have done anything significant – of having lived boring lives. We try to avoid looking boring, or dressing boringly. So much that we may act  way out of character or unlike who we are when no one is watching. I wonder, however, if who we are in particular isn’t what makes us interesting. We can’t be blamed for such anxieties, when all we ever get to see are praises of glorious lives. We rarely see an ode to the simple life, the life that doesn’t ask for much – which I feel deserves it’s on applause.

Boredom can also be a form of frustration, you might be bored of performing a task or constantly coming back to something you don’t really want to do. In this case, we might talk about the need to rise above a feeling, the need to not let emotions dictate our actions. Sometimes it is necessary to keep our heads down and just get on with it. However, one can also argue the need to know when to stop, when to call it quits.

A third aspect of boredom I’d like to look into is embracing the lack of stimulation, rather than running from it. The ability to be alone with ourselves is quite underrated. We really are often looking for an escape from silence, into spaces or relationships we don’t quite belong to, for the sake of noise or distraction. As irrational as that sounds, I don’t think we can blame ourselves for doing this; It isn’t easy being alone, it certainly isn’t easy being bored alone, it can feel quite maddening.

Well, there’s just a few thoughts I had on the matter. If you have a few views on boredom, please share in the comment section.

Author: Akulu Lipenga is a visual artist, creative director at Zaluso Arts and head of the Colors Of The Mind project.

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