As a writer, I very much stand “guilty as charged” when it comes to planting seeds…and then forgetting about them. Today I spent some time walking among the rows of drafts that I’ve planted on my blog, and I found this one. It strikes me as timely right now, especially as so many of us are grappling with new ways to face the boredom that comes to greet us. I gave it a little tending, and here I offer it to you.
Boredom gets a bad rap. It’s my sense that boredom is more like that 70’s kitchen with the avocado fridge, brown walls and the carpeting. Still useful and important, but maybe it needs an update or two.
Maybe if you’re talking about boredom as that anxious, antsy, holy-cow-how-am-I-going-to-occupy-my-time boredom, maybe that’s not so great. But that’s not how I see it. Here’s where I’m coming from.
Despite what my husband may think, I’m an introvert. Yes, I can schmooze when I need to, but boy does it wear me out. And one of my favorite things to do is to get lost in my thoughts.
I’ve always loved being on my own, entertaining myself. Even when I was little. I would disappear for hours inventing a new nature hike, or hang out in my room putting on puppet shows for myself, or stare out the car window counting things.
And even now, as a grown-up. Yes, I have sat through my share of hours of mind-numbing meetings, lines, car trips and airport waits. But for the most part, I can’t often say that I’m bored, because I always have some way to occupy my brain.
Why do I mention this?
Because it’s what I want for my students. For most of them, the only time they have to be alone in their thoughts is when they’re laying awake at bedtime. In those moments, the mind that’s been anxious to explore all day now has free rein. And as anyone who’s lain awake at night with a racing mind knows, that’s not always a good thing.
So I’ve introduced time in class for students to just sit. Sit and think. It was funny to watch them at first, strange and awkward. I could see their questions in the way they fidgeted and looked around. What do we do with our hands? What do we look at?
But once kids get past the awkward, something magical happens. They start to LIKE it. They start to enjoy and look forward to the time I give them to let their brains explore wherever they’d like to go.
I think we’re on to something!