I think I have always been a pretty busy guy. When I use the work busy, I don't mean it in the sense of feeling overwhelmed with life, but I mean it in the way in which I always seem to be able to find ways to busy myself. I don't relate to boredom, and I don't think I ever have.
As a kid, I could always find something to do. I wrote about some of my experiences in my December post, Play, but I want to expand on that. When it comes to dealing with boredom, I think I was always able to handle things. If I was on my own I had Lego, Adventure People, Hot Wheels, and lots of action figures, boats, cars, planes, and other toys. In my mind I can easily revisit those memories and when I think of it now I marvel at the creative scenes and situations I could invent in my mind. Oh, and man was I the MASTER of sound effects. You can bet that every car hitting a jump, or a plane taking off had a wicked sound effect with it. I built roads and garages. I gave my action figures names and I invented entire back stories for them. There were good guys and bad guys and they all had motives. And, of course, no play scene was complete without sharks and / or lava.
As a parent, I loved those moments with my own kids, and could insert myself pretty easily into their free play. Both of them seemed to inherit that sense of creativity and fun. My recent curiosity relates both to my own kids, and my students. The question for today's world is do children even have the chance to be bored anymore? Truth is, since they have discovered their screens, I don't think my own kids have ever had to deal with real boredom.
Wrestling with boredom is not an original thought. It's been documented in many ways, but when related to my own context and experience it becomes all too real. I think my experiences were most accurately captured in Clive Thompson's article in Wired magazine and as I read this I found myself nodding my head an awful lot.
Recently, I have come to know boredom. A broken ankle can do that. And while I am a bit too old to pull out my Lego and action figures, I still find that my mind activates in the same ways it did in my youth. I can "feel" how boredom leads to creativity. So, what is the message for adults? Boredom can be ok for kids. Let them be bored, and don't rescue them from this time. Let it happen, and see what emerges. When they say "I'm bored" respond as my parents did, "go find something to do."
What are your experiences with boredom? How did you deal with it?