Do you remember the last time you stared out a window?
I recall sitting in the carpool lane waiting for the kids to come spilling out through the school doors. My eyes moved from the cloudy sky to the other drivers and back to the school doors. My thoughts bounced from questions about the weather, to who that new driver was, to what I would fix for dinner that night.
I might have pulled a small paper tablet from my purse and scribbled an idea for my next article. Many of my writing inspirations came in moments like this.
In the car outside the bank while my husband was inside, standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in church before the service began. I remember being the first to arrive at the restaurant for a girls’ night out, or getting up early to watch the sun rise with a steaming cup of coffee.
Moments of quiet and boredom.
Do you notice what is missing in these little word pictures? A smart-phone. Yes, there was a time when our telephones were at home on the wall.
The devices that you and I adore so much now, our iPhones, laptops, pads, and tablets have filled every single tiny bit of empty space in our lives. A trusted source tells me that even the once sacred bathroom break is no longer safe from electronic devices. They are robbing us of our boredom. This concerns me.
Creatives need some boredom in their lives. Musicians, artists, writers, we all require white space in our thought lives. We need to stare out the window. We need to listen to the sound in the trees or the distinct noises that only city traffic can release.
We use a variety of tools to express ourselves. Paint, ink, clay, musical instruments and words are the material creative people use to release art. But the single most important tool we use is our imagination.
Before the painting, there is the idea. Before the song, there is the inspiration. Before the essay is written, there has to be the spark of an idea.
If we are filling up every moment with Twitter feeds, Facebook messages and Instagram photos, we will lose the thought-filled moments. The white space. The quiet in-betweens are important. We need to cherish the wide margins around our days, hours and minutes.
Put down your phone.
Look out the window and breath. Be strong and sit on a park bench without an electronic device. Do some people watching. Count some clouds. Arrive to an appointment early. Try to insert some boredom into your busy life.
It will be hard.
The fingers will itch and twitch. Withdrawal is always difficult. But creativity is your reward. New wanderings of the mind will lead to new wonderings and imagination will move into the blank spaces. Let your mind wander. Musical note combinations, swirls of color and shapes of new stories will arrive in the emptiness.
Creatives need a bit of boredom. Otherwise we will become boring, because our creations will not be fresh or original. How many movie re-makes do we really need? Gilligan’s Island does not need to come back, does it?
Please, go find some boredom right now!