“The Age of Faith.”
“The Age of Reason Begins.”
“The Age of Louis XIV.”
“The Age of Voltaire.”
“The Age of Napoleon.”
That’s the kind of titles Will Durant had chosen for his series of “The Story of civilization”.
So what about today? What should we call our age?
This is indubitably the “Age Of Boredom“.
Okay, I might exaggerate a little! Because not just today, but all the history of humanity is somehow an escape from boredom. From the first man from Ur-Nammu to Caligula, from Homer -who made Odysseus travel for 20 years- to Dickens -who described the idle rich in the “Bleak House”.
The Man cannot sit and stare into a blank canvas, and do nothing.
(Master Yoda: hmm! I can; Meditation it is called.)
Okay, but mankind needs to work, socialize, to engage in life; to do something. Anything (!) to relieve himself of boredom.
(Master yoda again: and Tiktok I have too, hmm the word “TikTok” I can’t reverse! INTERESTING!!)
So I was saying …
Baudelaire wrote “Les Fleurs Du Mal” in a world reigned by the “Ennui”.
Robert Musil wrote his unfinished novel “The Man Without Qualities” in three tomes: 2000 pages and unfinished for crying out loud!
Tolstoy loved ice skating and was very good at it.
Thomas Mann played violin and was an aficionado of music.
Nabokov collected butterflies and studied them.
Hemingway went on Safari trips in Africa and hunted lions and elephants.
And Gogol? Well he cut his nose! (Not true, by the way).
My point is everything we create or watch: work, film, books, relationships, shopping, sports, conversations, cooking, TiKtoK, etc.; all serve in a way or another to enable man to escape from boredom. Man unconsciously chases the enjoyable things in life to negate this boredom.
By being engaged in the world, we prevent any anxieties from existing within our mind.
But how if instead of escaping boredom, we faced it?
According to Rollo May (1909-1994), an existential psychologist: “We wouldn’t be truly free until we learn to tolerate and accept the boredom”.
“Boredom”, he said “pushes you into your own imagination. Being alone is very important, is essential. It presses you to use your imagination on a deeper level”.
He then adds: “Creativity comes out of the facing of difficulty and I would even go so far as creativity comes out of the facing of suffering. Joy comes from the meeting of difficulties and the use of one’s capacities to face more than he/she thought they were able to do before that” (Land Of Dreams 1988).
We all have a lot of things we want to do but we’re always procrastinating. It could be a diet we should start, or a workout program. It could be a list of books to read, or letters to write. Or anything else that can make you become productive.
It’s crazy what you could manage to do with your time!
Not to brag, but since the beginning of the lockdown I got so much bored that:
– I did a 5-day water fast
– I watched True detective (season 1), Mad Men, and the two first seasons of The Sopranos.
– I read +5000 pages
– I watched a whole lot of movies; old and recent
– I tried to workout every day (at least every other day).
And I’m not even a good example. I wasted a lot of time!
But I endeavor to be more productive in the future.
So what are you waiting for?!
It’s time to make a change in your life. It’s time to be bored.
“Creative people, as I see them, are distinguished by the fact that they can live with anxiety” The Courage to Create (1975) p.93