Health & Fitness

Boredom

The Rest is Best
By Lorna Foreman

Is it a symptom of something else

Anybody who has ever shared their lives with a cat knows how very smart they are in projecting their desires. The reason I am mentioning this universal characteristic is that when my dear Sammie is bored, I know it. All Sammie has to do is sit, look bored, give me that particular meow that gets my attention, and I (on occasion) stop what I am doing and respond by tossing balls to her. Crunched up paper tossed into the air, I encourage her to play our popular game of ‘chase me and then I’ll chase you’. But nothing — nada —still she sits, yawns, and waits for me to invent ‘the game’ — the game that will amuse her — the game I don’t know about, yet.

I don’t usually feel bored, but this past year I have found myself feeling bored frequently. Those moods did not respond to my usual ‘turn it around’ attitude to relieve them. Where was that someone who could figuratively throw me a couple of toys to play with or engage me in games to relieve me of that dull feeling, or even tickle my tummy! Silly images, but they might have worked.

I had to wonder why? Was it because a lot of sad things occurred in my life during this period; two close friends died, an ex-partner died, several friends found they had serious medical issues — some life-threatening? The world is a mess in so many areas and these things can create feelings of ennui.

Every time I feel bored, the song by Peggy Lee Is That All There Is comes to mind. Is it that we have too high expectations of ourselves and when we feel we are failures we fall into boredom? I don’t know.

I do know I have reached the stage where I cannot relieve boredom with highly energetic activity. Are extreme sports one of the modern-day boredom escapes? But alas, there is no bungee jumping, hang-gliding or parasailing in my future. The most extreme might be zip-lining.

I feel our society uses the boredom factor as an advertising gimmick. Seeing all the ‘happy’ people enjoying various activities sends a message that unless you are buying new stuff, or going new places, you are probably bored, unhappy or at worst, a failure. Boredom can be a bellwether of other possibly darker feelings such as depression. Boredom is a gentle nudge that gets your attention. How you deal with it, is important. It is a signal that somehow your life has gotten a little off course.

Not too long ago, we had no time to be bored. There were far too many chores to do, even as a youngster. I remember during the late 60s and 70s, society had a vision of a four-day work week, making way for more leisure activities. Did it happen? Nope. People are now working longer hours and hardly have any leisure time despite all the technology that promised to greatly ease our life.

We all seem to be on a fast-moving treadmill. Yet we have all sorts of time-saving tools. You don’t need to know how to cook anymore. I just received two flyers in the mail telling me I had $100 credit against ordering meals to be delivered — not cooked meals, but meals with all the ingredients perfectly measured and chopped ready for you to cook. Or you can call any restaurant and order because now there are entrepreneurs who go pick up the meal and deliver it to you from any restaurant. Repair your clothes? Sew? Silly notion — if it needs repairing, throw it out and get a new, whatever. Machines seem to have helped create our boredom.

Society always seems to be in a hurry. Wouldn’t you think that would eliminate boredom? Apparently, it doesn’t and could actually contribute towards it.

We hear so often about the Type A personality who, if asked, would probably deny ever being bored, as though it were a sin. Type B, slightly more laid-back would probably find themselves bored at times. What we should realize is that it is OK to be bored — it is how you deal with it that is the trick.

Yes, I get bored at times. When I do, I try to figure out what created the feeling…and usually it is not caused by having nothing to do. Recently, I rated all my “activities” to see if they are really satisfying. If they didn’t pass the rigid test, I quit.

My activity list has been shortened somewhat. It took a while, before I stopped feeling restless and started to do what I truly enjoyed. Once I did that, the boredom moment changed to reflection time —which is far more rewarding. Not easy, but worth it.

Lorna Foreman is a self-described 50-plus writer, author and artist who lives in Cornwall.