From boredom to brilliance
Do you remember sitting around the house when you were a child and saying, “I’m bored. What can I do?” Your mother would probably send you outside to play or give you a project to work on. Today, when people are bored, they turn to computer games or movies, sit around making small talk or just take a nap. I used to think people who are often bored could very well be boring people. Not so anymore. It depends on how they handle their boredom.
What do you do when you’re bored? Binge watching on Netflix or playing game after game on the computer is not productive and you end up feeling like you’ve wasted time.
But do we always have to be productive? Maybe not.
On a winter day when I have nothing left to do, I sit staring out the window at the snow softly falling. At first, thoughts rush through my mind — guilty thoughts of doing nothing. Then come the thoughts of all the things needing my attention: a conversation that ended badly, family issues, pet problems, meal preparations and the fact that my car needs gas.
Eventually, the rushing thoughts give way to empty spaces. No thoughts at all.
This is where creativity is born. Slowly, you realize a solution to a problem. The beginning of a story you have been stuck on comes to mind or you realize there is a different way to paint the ceiling in the guest room. I like to call these flashes of brilliance.
These thoughts can only happen when we quiet the mind or when we practise boredom. Some people might call that meditation, but then you’re actually doing something. I’ll stick with boredom.
The next time you’re on a plane, instead of reading or engaging in conversation with your seatmate, try looking out at the sky and contemplate the clouds. Just enjoy the time and see what happens.
Boredom can bring on awareness. It tells our brain that it needs different ideas, thoughts or things to do.
Boredom can lead to brilliant ideas. The creative people you know may appear to be doing nothing for grand spaces of time and the next thing you know, they are coming out with a new idea or project and everyone thinks they are amazing. They are amazing because they know how to quiet their minds and let the thoughts come.
A few years ago, my son had fractured his wrist and there were weekly trips to the hospital in my little French town to change his cast and then take X-rays to see how things were healing. I spent hours in waiting rooms while he was whisked away and taken care of. Left to the mercy of people around me jabbering away in French and my Moleskine notebook, I let myself become bored.
While doodling in my notebook one day, I started thinking of my life up to that point. I thought of food and how it was decidedly different depending on where I was living and what phase of life I was in. Newfoundland food, Lebanese food, French Canadian dishes and the favourites that had become part of the fabric of my family’s life danced through my mind. I listed recipes that went with each life category. Makeahead meals for a busy family and my own secret recipes were added to the list.
I had not planned to write a book, but there it was staring me in the face. Over the next couple of years, I wrote out recipes and the stories that went with them. Eventually, my book, Eat Where You Are, became a reality. All because I had nothing to do but sit in a waiting room in a busy hospital.
Do you have a problem? Are you stuck on something? Try quieting your mind and get bored. You might be amazed.