What makes something boring?
This question sprang to mind when during a recent trip to the zoo, I saw more than a few people take a quick glimpse at an animal, declare it "boring" and move onto the next. Anything that wasn’t moving or putting on some kind of a show, whether it was a big cat or a bug, was “boring.” One little boy asked his dad, "What's going to happen?" To which his father responded, "This isn't a movie, Jared."
What is someone seeing when they look at a lioness and label her “boring”? What does it take to spark our interest when a 400-lb predator from another part of the world cannot do it? What hope does our work have or our neighbourhood or our partner? What pressure are we under to “perform” so others will not take a quick look, label us “boring” and move on?
What if boredom, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder and all we have to do is switch the lens? I invite you to give these lenses a try. They are tools for life adventurers. Use them with wild abandon:
- The Lens of Awareness. Boredom often strikes when we’re floating through a habitual situation without actually engaging in it. Washing the dishes is so dull and familiar that our minds do busy work or numb out. Turn up your awareness and change the experience. Feel the water temperature as you immerse your hands. Notice the curve of a plate, the rim of a glass, the edge of a knife. Hear the sound of the sloshing water. Discover the richness of the moment.
- The Lens of Curiosity. When boredom creeps in, get curious. Explore new angles and possibilities. In that mind-numbing meeting, what question would your 9-year-old niece ask or your 87-year-old grandfather? What question could you ask your partner, co-worker or friend to discover something fresh and new about them? What don’t you know?
- The Lens of Presence. Let yourself be bored. Don’t try to make anything happen. Just give yourself a few minutes to experience boredom. See if anything shifts. See if there’s anything hiding in there, like tiredness or emotion. Give yourself and whatever it is that bores you an opportunity to be together and see what happens. Jared’s dad was right; this isn’t a movie. We don’t know what’s going to happen next and that’s the adventure, even if what happens next is nothing.