What is boredom good for?

What is boredom good for?

Ever had a day like you were on an emotional roller coaster ride? Mine had started in creative and strategic thinking (my favourite kind of daydreaming) and then had stops in sadness, self-pity, fear, and came to rest in boredom. So what is boredom good for?

Interestingly, there are several other languages which have a many more words to describe various states of boredom than in English. In Russian there are a range of words that describe different kinds of boredom from a fatigue kind of boredom to a more melancholy, long winter kind of boredom. The word toska is distinguished here by Vladimir Nabokov:

No single word in English renders all the shades of “toska.” At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

Ennui, that great old French word which brings with it a sense of world weariness. The mood of my early 20s. Boredom as we think of it in English however, has not been a welcomed guest at my table. I’ve refused entry to it for years. Mostly I kept it at bay with a good dose of frolicking drama. Always entertaining. Now, as drama ebbs from my life more than it flows, I find myself observing various states of boredom and experimenting with just letting them be vs banishing them. What I’m discovering is that boredom is good for some things.

Gayatri Devi writes that, Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It’s the last privilege of a free mind. She encourages us to lean into boredom when it arises. One of my committed listeners invited me to allow boredom to be – perhaps it is the birthplace of something new… Last time boredom arose in my life, what followed was a burst of creativity, including finding new ways to share myself as an artist.

Where have you found boredom to be useful and what for? I’m curious and would love to hear from you.