A Master of Boredom

TARDISThe Doctor. Doctor Who?

For many a year I lived under the delusion that  everyone shared my experience of the world. I feel too much, I am told. I feel too intensely. The world is a cornucopia to me. Wherever I turn I see beauty. I gasp in wonder at this marvel that is our universe.

So alive. So deliciously human. Exhilarating, is it not?

How devastating to discover that for the majority of people the Earth is a dull planet. How can that be?!

Stevenson said “I never remember being bored” — and yet even his truthfulness is doubted. Not so, they say. We – none of us – escape boredom. More worryingly so: apparently we are bored for the greater part of our lives.


I have said myself in the past… I recall it quite clearly: “Darling, I’m dreadfully bored!” But it was said somewhat in irony or as a small tongue-in-cheek dedication to the roaring twenties – the age of parties and exuberance – the age of unboredom itself.

Yet, here it is: boredom is a fact of life. You are either bored or lying – so I am told.

Our existence? Ordinary. Our pastimes? Commonplace. Our friends? Prosaic. Our passions? Insipid. Even our sorrows do not escape the cutting critique of the world. Sordid. Apparently.

Am I to sit still and silent when such disservice is done us? Not I. For I object, your honour. I object!

We are not colour blind to the tint and nuance of life. No shades of grey for us. Let it be sunshine and rainbows! I reject the premise that nothing of interest ever happens to us, that our lives are insignificant, our experiences worthy of the unwritten dust of history.

There is nothing more exceptional that to lead an ordinary life and live it well. This is art. The art of living life to its full, but not as others dictate it, but as we choose to weave it. Our stories do matter. This world breathes with words – spoken – written – lived.

Bored? No. Thank you very much. I do not need to be a Time Lord to travel through time. I do not need to have a TARDIS to reach the ends of the universe and come back again. I am content to be human, because to be human is to be extraordinary. Why?

Because if it is there – we will find a way to discover it. If it is a challenge – we will seek a way to succeed. If it is a dream – we will turn it into reality. Just because…

No one can persuade me that the world is dull. To you and your cynicism, dear critic, I say this: your glasses have fallen into the gutter and you’ve forgotten to wipe them clean before putting them back on your nose. Dulled vision will make the world seem dull – and yes – boring too.

The rest of us are less afflicted that you may want us to believe. I will let you into a secret about life: it is bigger on the inside!

We are masters of boredom. All of us.


PS: To my grandfather, who led an extraordinarily ordinary life and was exceptionally good at it. My Doctor.


30 thoughts on “A Master of Boredom

  1. Joseph Campbell said, ““I don’t think people are really seeking the meaning of Life. I think we’re seeking an experience of being alive…we want to feel the rapture of being alive” We have confused excitement with rapture and if we cant have excitement, we dont “think,” we are living.
    “Life will always be sorrowful. We can’t change it, but we can change our attitude toward it.” Campbell again. I think the difference is that you and I hopefully love life, in all its nuances.

    Wonder full post Vic.

    • Thank you, shoe1000, and thank you for your wonderful comment – such beautiful quotes. We do love life, don’t we? In its beauty and sorrows, in its light and darkness – all treasures to be discovered and lived.

  2. I agree. I am puzzled by the pervasive experience of boredom felt by most people. I also don’t allow time in my life for boredom. I think that many people are disengaged from society, working life-sucking jobs that don’t lead anywhere, have too much interaction with the tv and have forgotten how to choose what they do and enjoy rather than being dictated to by a hack journalist. I think that in the absence of an intellectually stimulating activity to fill most of one’s waking hours (e.g. a great job) it must be exceedingly difficult not to be bored.
    Lastly, like you both of my grandfathers were rather ordinary but I never witnessed either of them being bored or wasting time.

  3. Very beautifully written.
    I have felt boredom at times, I admit. It has been while drudging away at a job, in an office or cubicle, looking at nothing but walls and work. The other time has been more recent: being trapped at home in a 9 x 10 room, with only the computer and my three critters as companions. Going out into the apartment courtyard leaves much to be desired. There is grass and ‘weed bushes’, but seeing them not taken care of correctly, or dying altogether, takes the beauty out of most of it for me. When I was able to travel, cross country and to Alaska, there was beauty. I hold fond to those times and pictures in my head. I believe at some point (sooner rather than later) I will be able to venture again and see what I have sorely missed.

    Peace & Love

    • It sounds like you’ve got the travelling bug and that’s just wonderful. We share it. I love traipsing into the unknown too whenever I get the chance, and it can be difficult to stay in one place for very long.
      I tried to remember a time when I was bored and realised that I can’t. There must’ve been a time – but all I remember is feeling a little irritated if someone wanted me to sit around with them eyes glued to the TV when my mind was filled with things I needed to get on paper. Perhaps that’s why boredom is somewhat of an unknown to me: I am always either observing the world or writing about it 🙂
      Thank you for such a lovely comment. It was a pleasure reading it.

  4. Nice post!

    My life is always so busy that I actually enjoy being bored when I get the chance…putting the phone down and people-watching in a coffee shop or while I’m waiting in line. Everything is about balance, and I think that there’s something awesome about just being able to enjoy yourself without outside mental stimulation. Maybe, since easy-access entertainment has become so ubiquitous, knowing how to be bored will become a lost art. 🙂

    • Ha-ha! Thank you, Lizi. I know what you mean about taking time for yourself, but that is never boredom to me. I love people-watching, and when I get the chance to do it, I can’t help inventing stories about them. If I overhear snippets of conversation, I fill in the blanks. If someone looks happy, I try to figure out why that may be – so… I will step a little your way and say that when you are a master of boredom – boredom can’t master you 😉
      Great comment. Thank you.

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  6. Inspirational post Vic, for some reason I imagined Stephen Fry reading it, I think that’s a good thing, I love him to bits.

    It can get boring sometimes out here in the sticks, there’s very little trouble to get into, for that you have to look to friends 🙂

  7. I have found that if I am bored that I’m actually depressed. Harder to shake than boredom. The LAST thing you can say about my life is that it’s boring.

  8. An excellent post, Vic, very affirmational. Here’s a thought: as we hurtle like an Inter-City express train down the unique and exceptional track that is our life, every now and again we need to hit the brakes in order to traverse a bend. Perhaps boredom is our mind’s way of preparing us for the next section of track…
    Take care.

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  11. Growing up, the ‘B’ word was unacceptable in our house. As soon as that groaning declaration of “I’m so bored!” left our mouths, there was work to be done. “Bored, are you?” Our parents would hand us a laundry list of chores, usually yard work. We learned real quickly never to utter those dreadful words and devised ways to keep ourselves entertained and occupied in order to avoid spending another afternoon chopping down stinging nettles! Even to this day, I will always find something to do to ward off idleness or boredom. It’s become ingrained and yes, I have used this tool on my own children! I rarely hear the ‘B’ from them. 🙂

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  14. This, “There is nothing more exceptional that to lead an ordinary life and live it well. This is art. The art of living life to its full, but not as others dictate it, but as we choose to weave it,” from your post made me think of Thoreau, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.” The key words in this (to me) are that it is we are TASKED (it’s our job) task to MAKE our own lives. I suppose as melodyspen above I was also trained out of boredom. On a hot August day, time for school to start, the cry of “I’m bored” would lead to chores or a long guilt-inducing litany from my mom of “Look at all you have to entertain yourself! I never had that growing up in Montana in the Depression. Instead of bored, you should be grateful.” Actually, she was right.

    • Thank you for reminding me of Thoreau, Martha. It’s been a while and it’s a great quote. Thank you too for sharing your story – I am persuaded that your mother’s words will now come to mind every time anyone declares themselves bored.

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