My 5-year old (nearly 6… wow!) has learned recently the idea that boredom exists – or rather, that nothing fun exists at times and we call this boredom.
Or as she says it,
Appa I’m boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooored.
I honestly have no idea who taught her this concept or where she learned that word because it’s not something that we use in our house, ever.
I can’t even remember the last time I even said that word aloud much less saying it as if it were actually true. I do remember when I was young that would say it often, especially when I didn’t get my way, but that went away real quick.
But an interesting shift has occurred over the years as I’ve grown and become more engaged in a variety of different activities and interests. I am not bored nor lonely – in fact, I say this explicitly to people at times, especially if they are asking me if I need more “work” or if I need more things to add to my plate.
These people who ask typically don’t know me very well and don’t know all that I’m involved in so it’s not entirely their fault (in fact, not their fault at all), but I say it playfully and thankfully that I can stay very, very busy.
When I was my daughter’s age though the idea of “loneliness” would never even have crossed my mind. Boredom, for sure, but loneliness wasn’t even a concept that I even entertained.
The shift is where no I no longer even have the concept of boredom but loneliness is a reality that I face daily. Despite the fact that I just said that I do not experience loneliness is only partly true. I’m certainly not “functionally” alone as I do everything in the context of my teams and I spend less and less time by myself doing whatever I want to do.
But do I feel and experience loneliness at times? Absolutely. It’s partly my role, partly the way that I’m built, and partly the life I’ve decided to entertain at this point. And there’s much good that can happen in loneliness, by the way, as it can be productive (unlike boredom).
In times of loneliness I’m allowed to think independently and even think creatively. I’m given space to breathe and even relax. I’m about to resuscitate a number of ideas or activities. I can even recuperate to a certain degree. Loneliness isn’t necessarily negative – it can actually be extremely positive and healthy.
I might add that it’s also a time where I can focus on the spiritual side of my existence. To be honest, it’s oftentimes where I actually can remember that I am a spiritual being and that I have a spiritual life. Meditation and prayer typically come easy in these moments. It’s easiest when the loneliness starts creeping into the negative side of things.
Most of us would say with confidence that we’re neither lonely nor bored but we all experience it at times. I wonder what everyone else does to engage these moments and what you’ve learned through them.
[Image via Creative Commons, alyaya]