Boredom

My brother's cat Visily enjoying some quality boredom time sat on me while I watch a film.

My brother’s cat Visily enjoying some quality boredom sitting on me while I watch a film.

“I used to work in a factory and I was really happy because I could day-dream all day.” Ian Curtis

I wonder how many people would share that sentiment. Having a job that allows your mind to wander so that you can carry out a day’s work but think about what you like. This can be a good and a bad thing.

Boredom at work or in life in general can be a big problem. I cannot remember the exact quote form ‘Mort’ by Terry Pratchett but it goes along the lines of Death (who is an anthropomorphic character in the Discworld universe if you are unfamiliar with these books) wondering about humanity and thinking that the most confusing thing about humanity is that they have managed to invent boredom in a universe of infinite wonders. This is an interesting point. The more free time someone has the more easily they seem to get bored. I am very guilty of this. Avoiding boredom often takes quite a lot of work.

Having spent almost two years housebound, ill and not being able to do much I found that the times when I was least bored was when I gave myself a timetable of things to do. If I didn’t do this I was likely to end up watching TV (being bored while doing this), play computer games (which can be fun at first but I end up feeling depressed about wasting time if I do this too much) or possibly starring at the walls feeling sorry for myself (this also could be quite boring).

Giving myself a timetable was definitely the best way to keep myself occupied and not feel bored and lonely. I was living in London with my parents and most of my friends did not live in London so they didn’t really visit so I felt pretty lonely at times.

I play the drums and I had at one point when I was going through a quiet period of my disease rashly started a masters course in environmental archaeology. I had to pull out of the maters when my symptoms got very bad. I decided to use some of the time away from formal study to go through my undergraduate work to see if there was anything simple I had forgotten. There were other things I could do as well as these two activities I could focus on to pass my time effectively and avoid boredom. I set my self a timetable when I was very ill to try to go through old notes in the morning then try drumming in the afternoon. In the evening I could read a book (when I am in the mood I do read quite lot) or watch a film…films are easier to concentrate on than books, well most films are. I also started to teach myself the guitar. At times I did try to do yoga or some stretching. This either helped a little or gave me problems. I was very conscious that I should keep myself as active as I could this determination probably cause me some more problems than I would have had if I had not tried to test myself so much.

The timetable system worked pretty well most of the time if I stuck to it. I didn’t stick to it all the time. Some days would be very bad with very painful, urgent and frequent trips to the toilet and I either could not keep concentrating on what I was doing or just didn’t have the will to keep myself motivated so I would retreat to the old faithful of TV/computer games/film/blank wall starring.

Now that I am on the mend after the operations I had last year I am much more mobile and there are more things I can do to avoid boredom. Yet I still end up allowing myself to get bored. I think I am half expecting other people to organise things for me to do. I am getting back into sorting things out. I had a rehearsal with my band for the first time in almost exactly a year. That was fantastic though my guitar playing compared to theirs left a lot to be desired! I should start getting back into a studying frame of mind as I am officially back to my master’s in May, but this is proving to be a lot harder than I thought!

Being ill for a long time has changed how I think about boredom as well. I just spent a week doing shifts of data entry of surveys. This was fairly mind numbing. However I don’t think I found it as boring as I would have done before I was ill. I kept thinking to myself that there was no way I would have been able to do this before I was ill and I was thankful in a sense. The data entry itself would have been doable, but the act of leaving the house, walking to the station, travelling on the train, walking to the offices, sitting in the same room as other people for several hours, none of this would have been possible when my colitis was very bad. I thought this may be boring but it is better than being stuck in a house for weeks on end and spending most of my time in close proximity to a toilet. If I am able to do that then there are many more things I can do…hopefully these things will be more mentally stimulating and enjoyable! It also allowed me to do a lot of day dreaming, some of which went into the writing of this entry.

Sorry that went on a bit…hope it wasn’t boring.

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