Boredom: guardian of the Temple (part 1)

One of the more distracting things about capitalist culture is that there is no stupor, no time to vegetate. What I would suggest is more time-wasting, less stimulation. We need time to lie fallow like we did in childhood, so we can recuperate. Rather than be constantly told what you want and be pressurised to go after it, I think we would benefit greatly from spells of vaguely restless boredom in which desire can crystallise. Adam Phillips, That way sanity lies

Achieving boredom is problematic. We have succeeded in constructing forms of human living so we never have to be free from entertainment and distraction. We are relieved of the troublous knowledge of the essence of our desire and our self.

Sunday evening: I am trapped on an evening train journey in a carriage with three young adults talking loudly about the unedifying details of their sordid little lives. I am fed up with a journey made complicated and uncomfortable by backache, engineering works and replacement bus services, and by the seeming impossibility of stringing a few uninterrupted thoughts together.

I was trying to write my journal, and I felt bored – bored with the journey and bored with myself.

“What is the opportunity presented by boredom?” I ask myself. “It is the opportunity not to be distracted from fundamental, unvarnished, visceral aliveness.

Here I am on this train in the middle of a journey. It is dark outside. I am surrounded by strangers. I have entrusted myself to South West Trains. I am breathing, sitting, heart beating. I am in mild pain. I am beginning to get restless legs. It is difficult to relax into the reality of this situation, which is that I am stuck here in circumstances I cannot change.

But this is exactly what life is like. You are stuck in this life over which you have very little control. You can only trust yourself to what is.

Boredom is one of the guardians of the Temple. Boredom stands guard at the entryway to the inner sanctum of soul. It says, with such sweet reasonableness, “Turn away. There’s nothing interesting here. Go and find something to entertain you.”

When do you feel bored? What do you do when you feel bored?

Next in series.

One thought on “Boredom: guardian of the Temple (part 1)

  1. This is brilliant – I love it! Boredom – not even sure childhood allows for it any more – I am aware of that. Just to catch a glimpse of life through the eyes of a child is a beautiful thing, but not sure children are given much opportunity to do that!

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