Towards a theory of distraction, concentration and boredom

As a part-time childcare provider, I subscribe to the theory that boredom is good for children. However, as an adult I resist boredom’s virtues. I don’t really know if we are any more distracted than we have ever been, and unless you work as a food critic (how does one get this job?), I think we continue to experience boredom. Yes, we can distract ourselves with our iPhones, but have you ever had a conversation with a 4 year old about cars? Have you ever had to collate notes? Stock shelves? We might have arrived in the future of the future, but life is still boring. So I would like to get better at all three of these modes of being–distraction, concentration, and boredom–because none of them are going away. So here are my best versions of each:

Concentration: the 30 min. of writing I do at the beginning of my morning. It only works because I am not allowed to write for more than 30 min.

Distraction: walking anywhere while listening to my Podcasts. I have never been fitter than when I walk for at least an hour everyday. And I am distracted from the labor of moving my feet by the sweet mewling of Stephen Metcalf.

Boredom: Fortunately I have access to a child, the true secret to perfecting boredom. I don’t know how long its been since you’ve played 20 questions, but it is a pretty great game. It is both boring, satisfying, and the child adds a nice soundtrack of giggles.

*Important note to lame adults who want to count their evening bath, or lying in bed considering their navel, as effective boredom: boredom is not the same as relaxation, zoning out, or pondering, all of which require no labor.

 

-D

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