I kind of cringe whenever I hear someone say “I’m bored”. When children say it, the implication is that as an adult I need to find something more interesting for them to do. When teenagers say it, it’s more like a judgment they’re making, often said with emphasis: “bor-ing”. Adults – we may yawn or make excuses to do something else – usually we’re not as direct as children or teenagers. However, our actions say it just as clearly.
I think what really makes me cringe when I hear people say “I’m bored”, though, is the fact that with so many amazing things to be discovered about the world, ourselves and each other, the choice to be bored is such a misguided use of our “precious” time.
The other day I found myself in a situation where I had to wait for a longer period of time than I anticipated. Not having anything to read or write or a cel-phone to text or people to visit with, I found myself beginning to have feelings of boredom (and yes, I cringed at myself). Refusing to give in to these feelings, I looked around to find something I could do to make better use of my time.
My eyes finally settled on a painting on the wall – one that I had seen at least a hundred times before. I decided to really look at it this time – to study the details – to learn something more about it. It was amazing! As I began to look more closely at this painting (that I had literally seen a hundred times before) I found a figure I had never noticed before. I saw the expression in his eyes, the yearning, the hope. I saw the details of the background – the shapes and colors - I had never noticed before. And as I studied these details, I began to think more about the artist and I felt a twinge of sadness that in the hundred times I had seen this painting, I had missed so much of what he had worked so diligently to convey. But I also felt joy that I had finally seen these important details and gained a new-found appreciation for this painting - as though I were seeing it for the first time.
In the same way, instead of choosing to be bored, we can also choose to look more carefully, to pay more attention to the important details in the lives of our loved ones. We can choose to notice what they are so diligently trying to convey to us and as we do this, we can begin to see them with new eyes as though we were seeing them for the first time.