I’m not bored. I think that’s true. And I hope I’m not boring.
I tell myself that I just have large periods of unstructured time. I’ve got things to do; projects, chores, activities.
Mary Mann’s article in Sunday’s The New York Times caught my eye because of the catchy headline: “The Other Side of Boredom.” She writes about some of the interesting arguments about the power of “doing nothing” so your creative mind can chart a new path.
Yet, astoundingly, others actively seek boredom out. “You have to sit around so much doing nothing,” Gertrude Stein wrote on developing creative genius. F. Scott Fitzgerald thought boredom was necessary for writing: “You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges.”
Yet there are people who would rather have electric shock than be bored.
Doing nothing is often boring, and boredom is often crazy-making. In a 2014 study, published in the journal Science, researchers reported that many people preferred self-administering electric shocks to doing nothing.
Really? Can anyone be that bored? Clearly, I’m not at the electric shock stage. However, I haven’t reached the F. Scott Fitzgerald stage either.
The problem with articles about boredom, or even the topic itself, is the context. Being unemployed or underemployed is a very different kind of boredom than those who are laid-up by illness. Or by those who have shifted gears and are no longer working full-time [retirement] might face other kinds of boredom.
Mann wrote this as she talks about her own experiences:
Sometimes boredom serves as empty ground on which to build new ideas, while other times it acts as a guide to our true desires. You have to wait and see; above all, boredom is the master of the long con.
That’s probably the best advice: give yourself time to figure out what’s next. The transition stage of retirement is scary, as we don’t know what’s on the other side.