Keeping Busy

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Keeping Busy

My wife said something to me the other day: “Ron, I never see you bored.”

“I know,” I said. “I wake up, I do a few things, and the next thing you know it’s suppertime.”

I was pleased to hear her make the above observation, although the purist in me became a little concerned. Haven’t NAT (New Age Types) pushed the idea lately that boredom is good for you? Good for your creativity?

I remember reading about this on Facebook: child psychologists and educators have discovered that when children are bored and are not released from this uncomfortable state by concerned parents — who would then allow them to watch TV or play endlessly on a device — it often leads to very creative activity.

Is the fact that the days go by quickly for me and that I’m rarely bored as good thing? (I imagine myself sitting on the couch and forcing myself to do zilch. It’s nothing short of torture.)

I think so. I also wonder if every kid who’s bored and complains about it to his mother is better off when mommy holds off suggesting a quick fix. Do all kids discover the great fun at playing outside, or that it’s possible, maybe even easy, to be fully engaged in a creative activity?

Anyway, I’m not a kid. I never had a way with paintbrushes or in other artistic endeavours. (Well, I did play guitar which wasn’t as creative as it was technical, learning chords, and reading music.)

I did play a lot outside in my youth.

That was in the 50’s and 60’s when parents (usually mothers) were fine with their children playing unsupervised in the neighbourhood with the kids on the block. I used to join in girlie games that my older sister participated in and I also remember exploring with a long-forgotten friend a still undeveloped piece of land not too far from my house where there was a forest stuck between two warehouses. We’d imagine we were in some adventure and check out all kinds of interesting stuff we’d find strewn about and let our imaginations run wild. I think we often played “War” (arguing who had shot and killed whom).

The older boys in my neighbourhood (there were none my own age) were all bullies; memories of times spent with them are not pleasant. Still, I’d be active until suppertime when mom would call me to come home and I would, all hot and sweaty. And happy.

Today, I push away boredom with a number of games, err, well, two in fact, bridge (I have about five apps) and Words with Friends, as well as a long meditation in the morning (1.5 hours, including 20 minutes of yoga) and physical activity about four or five times a week with Naomi, usually cycling, hiking or going to the gym. Then there’s reading.

Books, that is, when I can pull myself away from my Facebook and NBC News apps.

There’s also the odd project around the house; lately, preparing (as in cutting up) wood for Naomi’s wood stove in her studio using old construction wood we inherited with the house and that’s piled in the basement. Very lately, there’s a truck full of earth on our front lawn which I have to move around by shovel and rake to fill in a depression on our land. I do a little bit every day until my arms and shoulders get tired.

There’s also the fact that I’m a clean freak and will sweep and wash the floors on a regular basis.

And twice a week bridge tournaments take up two afternoons a week.

So I guess it’s not that surprising how quickly I perceive the days and weeks go by, after all.

It helps psychologically that Naomi no longer talks about me getting a part-time job around here. She gave up the idea, surprisingly, after being a constant topic of conversation, when we got back from our trip to California in April. “You’re not going to get a job now,” she commented.

And so now I’m officially retired instead of “perhaps” and “maybe”.

While boredom is not a serious issue, even in winter, the lack of interesting projects that one looks forward to and that come with a satisfying job is not there at all. Until I realized I couldn’t work for my new boss, I often derived satisfaction from a good day’s work when I would successfully work through a pile of tasks.

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