When was the last time you were bored? I don’t mean “playing on your phone instead of paying attention,” I mean B-O-R-E-D. Not very long ago, the world forced boredom on us regularly. Now, I can’t remember the last time I was in a situation in which I couldn’t pull out my phone and start doing something else.
It’s not all upside
Having a phone in the waiting room at the dentists office may feel preferable to reading Highlights Magazine, but what if we’re losing something? What if in those moments of boredom, we were actually working things out for ourselves?
A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember the last time I had really just sat and thought about… well, anything. Sure, I sit down to write or create lectures or plan my day, but uninterrupted pondering? Hm.
I took a road trip.
I headed down to North Carolina for a few days of rock climbing with my brother-in-law. I found myself alone in the car for about 7 hours each way. Armed with dozens of podcasts, I was bound to catch up on some learning.
I made it 20 minutes before I realized just how quiet it was. Yes, there was road noise. But nothing else. No people to talk to, baby to keep an eye on, no email to read. In a moment of inspiration I decided that I would complete the remainder of the trip, about 14 hours total, in silence.
That’s the only word for it. I played out conversations. I gave speeches. I sat and argued with myself. I discovered a new element (ok, kidding). I came back with an entirely new mindset for my job as a professor, and for the things I want to do with Intentional Academy.
I also realized that my life used to feel this clear on a regular basis. I attributed the issue to “growing up,” now I have big-boy problems to deal with. The truth is that I am just more distracted.
I think those 15-minute bouts of boredom in waiting rooms are times we figure life out. My new plan is to schedule 15 minutes of daily wall staring.
How do you gain clarity? Leave a comment and tell us about it!