Sunday, June 17, 2007

Boredom = death? I think not!

Instapundit led me to this site, mostly because of the irony of an ACLU caller saying the call would be "monitored for quality assurance." So much for the right to privileged conversation...

But, while that amused the heck out of me -- as well as out of many others -- a few commenters picked up on something which has been gnawing at the back of my brain for a while, now. Sam Dinkin, in his original post, said the following:
There were 360 million US one-way airplane trips taken last year. That's 360 million half hour delays for "increased" security. Let's express that as lifetimes lost--wasted--due to boredom: 250.
All over the place, I hear complaints about the suffering of boredom. I hear it from the kids on my block, from my friends on a Friday evening, from celebrities, and, of course, from those in the media whose livings are made by hyping the Next New Thing. Commenter James Nightshade responds:
Being bored is not actually the same as being dead.
With this, I concur. In fact, for many long years I heard my neighbor -- something of a surrogate grandmother -- say, "boredom is the sign of a small mind," or, the more (less?) generous "boredom is the sign of a limited imagination."

We are not allowed to be bored. Frustrated, yes. Irritated, yes. But never, never, never will my extended family be bored. When I was once left to live a little more than a year in a very rural setting, with not enough money to pay for telephone, cable television, or even a decent aerial antenna to pick up television and radio signals from the other side of the mountains, and had no access to easy transportation into town to visit the library or the movie theater, I cleaned and wrote and drew on old papers and even found some old bed sheets to cut up and hand-sew some clothes for myself. I wasn't very good at the sewing thing, but I learned.

And, for a while, I was unable to move around, due to some injuries. I sat in my bed and, in my mind, board-by-board, rebuilt and renovated my childhood home. Yeah, it was nuts, but it wasn't dull -- and I didn't get any splinters, blisters, or further trips to the emergency room.

I have, in waiting rooms, rewritten the endings to films and books I found less than satisfactory. I have pictured the landscape on distant planets. I have choreographed dance numbers with my fingers as the star performers. I have memorized all the names on I.D, tags of the people nearby and passing through. I have drawn quick portraits of people who are waiting with me. I have made lists of euphemisms I knew for the acts of making love, voiding, and a host of other basic animal activities, both pleasant and unpleasant (inspired by one Parrot Sketch, I suppose).

Now, granted, I'm nuts, and a lot of what goes on in my head is stuff I'd rather not listen to, so I keep my mind busy, primarily to shut out the noise. Still, the point is, just because you're standing around, waiting, doesn't mean you have to stare blankly at the wall beside you. You're equipped with a brain, so why not use it? If you're bored, it's not that somebody else is wasting your time... you're the one with the profligate ways.

2 comments:

Sam said...

Time spent in an undesirable activity reduces quality of life just as surely as dying an hour early. Personally, I would rather die than spend my last month of life waiting in a security line.

leucanthemum b said...

I hate to break it to you, but most of life is about waiting or doing crappy things you don't really want to do... or is your kitchen full of dirty dishes (not to mention what might be found in a bathroom or bedroom untouched by labor)?

The point is, that time is only wasted if you allow it to be wasted.

Die if you must, but don't blame the security line.