Let’s talk about how boredom and creativity go hand in hand.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean, they seem to be each other’s opposite. Creativity is when you mind is racing, colors are flying off the paintbrush, words are flowing from you pen, music is gliding from your fingers, your brain is whirring and your eyes are alight, and everything is bright and exciting. And boredom is when your leg bounces and your foot fidgets while your chin rests on your hand and your eyes rest on the wall, your brain complete passive.
When was the last time you were bored? And I mean really bored. Not “scrolling through Facebook while waiting for the dentist to call you in” bored. I mean the thoughtful silence kind of bored. It’s probably been a while. We lovedoing things just for the sake of doing them. After all, while you’re waiting for the dentist to call you in, you can be getting important things done, like updating your status. Being bored is wasting time, right?
I’ve heard this said again and again, (and I’m sure you have too) that boredom leads directly to creativity, but I never really experienced it until recently. I was away on a trip, which meant long car rides, long plane rides, other long times where I couldn’t pull out my phone and entertain myself. My brain didn’t like that. And so, it did an amazing thing—it decided to entertain itself.
Waiting for my dinner had never been so fun as my brain began to tell a story, flesh out characters, build a world, and sing songs as I sat at the restaurant table. With nothing to do, it gave itself something to do. And it was amazing. I never felt such a flow of random creativity.
There’s a reason the best ideas pop into our heads right when we’re falling asleep.
So the next time you want to heave a sigh, roll over on your couch, and through pillows mumble a muffle, “What do I do? I’m booooored,” remember, you’re in a pretty creative position right there.
And if you’re unhappy with your boredom and see it as a curse, maybe you’re just not doing it right.
(This post was inspired by a wonderful talk by Fr. Mike Schmitz and enhanced by my own experience :))