One of the remarkable capabilities of humans is boredom. I call it remarkable because I think it must require a special level of passivity to experience it. When my kids were adolescents they assured me that many situations were incredibly boring, but all it did was confirm my suspicion that boredom is a notable achievement. It requires containing the mind in an unnatural way. To get bored, it is necessary to tie the brain down and prevent it from wandering, which I think is not an easy thing to accomplish. Of course, that is what some education is: the attempt to harness the expansive reach of the mind and keep it focused on some small subset of knowledge that hasn’t the capacity to keep it involved. “Pay attention to this slide!” we order, but there’s nothing there but a few sentences that everyone read in the first 3 seconds the slide appeared on the screen.
The mind wants to explore and wander…wants to be bewildered briefly, confused by new information and challenged to bring order out of new information. The mind is beguiled by novelty and implication, by unexpected permutations and paradoxical messages. Puzzles are dessert in the brain’s diet.
This doesn’t mean that boredom should be celebrated, only that it’s amazing that so many people force themselves into ruts that they experience as boredom. I think boring others is one of the great interpersonal sins and I have a horror of doing it myself. That’s why I love getting (safely) lost in a new city and why I’m fascinated by things not easily categorized.
I found one this afternoon on the gel website. The GEL conference is put on by Mark Hurst and his cronies in their quest for creating the “Good Experience” and takes place every year. I haven’t been able to afford to go, but they kindly share some of the presentations from the conference. A great one is up today of the presentation by a couple called Lelavision. I can’t figure out what they’re doing (music? dance? abuse of vegetables? home-made cool stuff? parenting tips?). Whatever they’re doing, it demonstrates that boredom and sameness is easily avoided if one doesn’t feel compelled to live in a box.
Check out this 18 minute video and let me know what it inspires for you.