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I often come across people who seem to be eternally stuck to the assorted gadgets in their prized possession. It really amuses me, how they apportion their time between laptops, tablets, smart phones and so many other gizmos. I fear that a lame joke that someone cracked may actually be true- that we live in an age where phones are getting smarter and people, idiotic.
Why is it that a few seconds of doing nothing makes us feel work-less, worthless and less important than people with ears plugged and fingers in perpetual swiping motion? Even a few minutes of boredom has become so intolerable in this age of the fast and furious where even food has to be “fast”. Next time you are in a public space, just look around you and you will find people torturing themselves by over-stimulating their senses. It’s true. They just don’t realize it. If a shopping mall has free Wi-Fi, even lovers would prefer texting each other while holding hands! That’s the rule. Free Wi-Fi HAS to be used.
Children seem to be as busy as professionals. Wake up, go for sports practice, go to school, come back, quickly snack, go for tuitions, come back and do homework, play, study, watch T.V/browse the internet/play video games, have dinner, sleep. On weekends, add a music/dance/swimming/karate class to the above list. I dread that day when parents may have to take an appointment with their child (after rescheduling theirs) to just hold hands and take a stroll in the park together.
I can’t help thinking about my childhood days when there was so much time at hand that boredom was something that I encountered every day. Being the only child of my parents didn't make matters very easy. I was always faced with the challenge of entertaining myself and coming up with new things to do. Since I was spared of the idiot box (Doordarshan was more depressing than boredom) and the smartest of gadgets, I found myself painting, writing, making my own songs(parodies), making use of waste materials in the house to create new things, cooking up new games and stories and finding my own methods of engaging myself in a productive activity. Things that I made and did, though far from perfect, were at least original and left me satisfied and proud.
I can’t suppress my laughter when I think of the seriousness with which I hosted imaginary cookery shows, conducted parent teacher meetings, taught maths and English to teddy bears, dolls and sometimes even my mother. My cousins and I even scripted and enacted plays on our cot that served as our stage shrouded by my mother’s sari. I kept a secret diary, had imaginary friends, made my own code language, conducted tuition classes (yes, I earned my pocket money) for kids younger than me and did so many other interesting things on my own. I even made my own brick house (without cement) with a thatched roof in our terrace. You can imagine how bored I would have been to carry nearly hundred bricks up the stairs and make a house!
There have been other times when I just gazed out of the window, looking at the sunset or people on the road, trying to guess their stories or reflect on mine. Even as an adult, I enjoy the bout of creativity that is born after a period of boredom. Though my husband has to bear the brunt of my frustration while I am bored, the outcome is quite rewarding, really. A painting, a handmade card, a new dish, a heartfelt handwritten letter, a new hobby- the outcomes are sometimes unpredictable. Even this blog wouldn't have materialised had I succumbed to the charms of my phone and laptop that promise to entertain me faithfully 24×7.
Of course, I have nothing against technology. I too depend on it every day. I hold no grudge against children who learn different things either. The point is to stop ourselves from being enslaved by them to such an extent that without them we feel empty. Boredom is not such a bad thing. Once while I was taking class about the human digestive system, the students and I got so bored of the lesson (yes teachers get bored too!) that we decided to have some fun. I asked the students to imagine themselves as a piece of bread or dosa or whatever and write about their experience. The answers were so enthusiastically written with a good dose of humour that left us in peals of laughter. A Biology lesson was effectively turned into a creative writing session thanks to boredom.
Empty spaces can be filled with something new, but not a space that is already crammed. Once in a while let’s take our eyes and hands away from our gadgets find some time and clear the canvas of our minds and fill it with new colours and patterns. The result will surely amaze you. So, cheers to boredom!!