Spaces and Boredom

I have been pondering focus and space. These are frequent subjects for pondering and this particular round was triggered by something Sara Zarr wrote on her blog.

Technically there is the time to do [social media and internet browsing], but it leaves my mind fragmented. Also, and this is the main thing: I think creative people need to feel “bored” or lonely. I think you have to endure that rather than immediately soothing it because after the initial agitation is over, the funnel unclogs and you can actually get some stuff into the well, and out of it.

Since reading that, I’ve been paying attention to how often I wander down to my computer to check one thing. I’ve also been noting how I feel before reading through my regular internet stops and after. The truth is that while I feel like I want to check my sites and get them taken care of before settling in to work, I actually find myself less able to prioritize after I’ve read snippets of a dozen things. I have to step away from my computer, sometimes all the way out of the house into my yard. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes of sitting, others thirty minutes or more, but it will suddenly become obvious to me what my next priority should be. Quiet space gives my thoughts a chance to settle and I can see what is important.

It occurs to me that the impulse to check the internet, or read a book, or watch a show, are my brain telling me that I am bored. If I force myself to accept the boredom and live in it, then my brain begins to dredge through thoughts and memories. I start to tell myself stories. This is where fiction and blog posts come from. Boredom is my friend.

I could finish off this blog post with a commitment to do better or a new set of rules for myself. I think I’ve got enough shake-up-my-life challenges for the coming week without adding another one. Instead I’ll trust that observation impacts the observed. The fact that I am paying attention means that I’ve changed my behavior and will probably continue to do so. Perhaps I’ll set a specific goal in this area once I’ve returned from the retreat and cleared the returning home tasks.