There is no really such point in life in which there is absolutely nothing to do. The only time a person ever gets bored is when he is in a situation where he is bound to do things that he would rather be doing. It could be that he is a student enduring a class outside of his favorite subjects; an employee invited to a meeting he has nothing to do about; a teenager watching TV at home, grounded by his parents. These people are bored because they would rather be elsewhere, doing things that are more in line with their interest at that particular moment.
Wikipedia defines boredom as “an emotional state experienced when an individual is not interested in their surroundings or available activities“.
And before I proceed with my stream of thoughts, I would like to say: I’m writing this because I’m bored out of my wits.
Usually the boundaries and limitations that result to boredom are outside of the individual, a lack of choice to do anything else coming from external forces or circumstances. Other times, the limitations come from the body itself. It is during these times that boredom reaches its sordid peak.
Boredom, then, becomes a struggle of the mind against the limitations of the body.
Case in point: I have been pinned down to my bed for the past two days, unable to do as much as change my position without groaning. I have yet to fathom the nature of my sickness – there is really no better explanation for it other than that I have used my body too much in the last couple of months that it has decided to declare itself useless.
Despite this, my mind wanders. It continues to want, continues to need to do things. People could be sick, for example, but inside they want to work, study, read a book; they want to listen to music, practice their art, resume with their plans for the day…
And yet they are stuck in this limited, useless piece of instrument called the body.
At this point, the body may want to throw in its own arguments: why is the mind so pushy despite knowing the body’s limits? This is, actually, just the beginning of the clash.
In my student example, the whole reason why he is bored is because his mind would rather do something else – perhaps study a more stimulating subject or cut class and party. He couldn’t because his body is confined in such an environment that renders it impossible to do anything else. But in reality, is he really choice-less? The fact is that he could always decide to walk out of the door, but doesn’t because the mind itself knows the possible consequences of doing such and tells the body otherwise.
It is, I believe, this disconnect, this struggle between the mind and the body that results to boredom.
This reminds me of a poem by Andrew Marvell, “A Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body”:
|O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise
A soul enslaved so many ways ?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands ;
Here blinded with an eye, and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear ;
A soul hung up, as ’twere, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins ;
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart ?
|Body.||O, who shall me deliver whole,
From bonds of this tyrannic soul ?
Which, stretched upright, impales me so
That mine own precipice I go ;
And warms and moves this needless frame,
(A fever could but do the same),
And, wanting where its spite to try,
Has made me live to let me die
A body that could never rest,
Since this ill spirit it possessed.
|Soul.||What magic could me thus confine
Within another’s grief to pine ?
Where, whatsoever it complain,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain ;
And all my care itself employs,
That to preserve which me destroys ;
Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what’s worse, the cure ;
And, ready oft the port to gain,
Am shipwrecked into health again.
|Body.||But Physic yet could never reach
The maladies thou me dost teach ;
Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
And then the palsy shakes of fear ;
The pestilence of love does heat,
Or hatred’s hidden ulcer eat ;
Joy’s cheerful madness does perplex,
Or sorrow’s other madness vex ;
Which knowledge forces me to know,
And memory will not forego ;
What but a soul could have the wit
To build me up for sin so fit ?
So architects do square and hew
Green trees that in the forest grew.
We can go on and on about this, making it even more complex. But at the end of the day, the whole point is that the body and the mind have to work together, find that right balance and be in harmony.
In my case, it’s straightforward: give your body and your mind time to rest, or one day one of them will force itself to.