Recently, Heidi Ehlers, (Creative Career Consultant, and founder of Heidi Consults www.heidiconsults.com), told me about a lesson she once learned from her mother. Heidi had just moped into a room to whine to her mother, “Momma, I am so bored.” And her mother responded, sagely if a little coldly, “No my dear, you are boring.”
Sue me if you want, but I agree with Heidi’s mom and want to pass along some advice to students everywhere: If you are even capable of being bored, I don’t wanna hear it. In fact, never let on to anyone, especially your creative director, that you have the kind of intellect capable of being so switched-off it can be bored.
When you say, “I was so bored this weekend” you’re stating that you find the entire universe – in all its mystery, in all its explosive beauty, in all its fractal complexity – that the entire universe bores you. Saying “I’m bored” suggests you’ve in fact seen and thought of every interesting thing in the universe, read every book, been down every street, looked into every window, talked to all 7 billion people and that until some NEW material comes along, frankly, you’re not at fault for mopin’ around the house and draggin’ your knuckles a little bit. “Sorry, but there’s nuthin’ ta DO.”
I simply cannot imagine a smart person being bored, ever.
I try to picture Albert Einstein moping around his house with “nuthin’ ta do.” I can’t. I try to imagine, say, Malcolm Gladwell hangin’ out over at Paul McCartney’s house and they’re tossing cards into an upturned hat, both grumbling about how bloody boring everything is. I can’t. I try to imagine George W. Bush and … well, that’s a fairly easy image to conjure.
(There’s W at his ranch. His cable is out which means he can’t watch NASCAR so he’s out on his porch waiting for the cable guy, munching on Cheetohs and as he reads the back of the bag, his lips move.)
The other day someone told me how bored he was and the metaphor came to mind of a street drunk asleep on the steps of the public library, his brain an insensible dollop of meat loaf idling at the feet of the stone lions in front of the vast cathedral of knowledge; his back to kaleidoscopic mystery of existence, his legs twitching, and his sputtery little two-cylinder mind, idling, twitch-dreaming of some Sterno-numbing pleasure, perhaps a People magazine.
Perhaps I am too harsh, but if he’s waiting for this watchman to prod him along down the sidewalk with my nightstick, forget about it. Be bored. Yawn into the abyss. The rest of us will be too busy inhaling all the knowledge and experience we can before our time is up and our candle gutters. We will never be bored. Good creative people are naturally interested in everything, curious about everything. They inhale the world.