"A Brand New Day"
- At the Desert Retreat House -
Almost every day I spend a few minutes browsing through the social media hoping to get a “pulse” of what’s going on in the routine world of people’s ordinary lives. Yesterday evening one particular “tweet” made me stop and take special note of what was being said. Lamenting that the weekend was over, the tweet read: “It’s almost Monday, another boring week begins.”
I think that perhaps this “tweet” was so striking to me because I saw it as extremely emblematic of so much of the way lots of folks approach ordinary life in today’s popular culture. Many people seem pretty bored with just about everything in their lives –especially on a Monday morning when they go off to work and begin yet another boring week.
So often I hear people lament over how “bored” they are - bored with their jobs, or bored with school, bored with the people they are with day in and day out. I notice that ads are often aimed at people who are bored with their clothes or bored with their shoes, bored with their old hair products or bored with their aging skin. I get this sense that so many of us have come to believe that a lingering boredom is sapping all the joy out of living.
And of course when people find life boring, they will do almost anything to relieve the boredom - sometimes find new jobs, sometimes even find new friends or buy new cars or new clothes, or browse the web and send endless texts. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in a restaurant or a coffee shop and watched people literally “stop” their conversations only to pull out a smart phone and start pecking away. I often wonder if they’re doing this because they basically just got bored with one another.
As I read yesterday’s “tweet’ about another boring week, I almost immediately remembered something I read a while back in Lauren Winner’s beautiful book, Still Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. She reflects at how bored she had become with her ordinary routine as she entered the period of her mid-life years, and realized that perhaps her “boredom” was actually a spiritual gift to be embraced not a condition to be avoided. She writes:
Thomas Merton, the twentieth century Trappist monk, wrote that
what we are attempting to escape when we try to flee our boredom
is only ourselves.
Perhaps boredom is not unlike loneliness:
the best response may be not to run from it,
but to give yourself to it,
to see it as an invitation to attend more carefully
to the very thing that seems boring.
Gradually, a sense of order overtakes the wretchedness of boredom,
and there is a movement toward stillness,
and in the stillness we find God, and in God,
our true identity.
As I reflect on it, the most boring moments of any routine day are indeed invitations for me to stop, to stay, to look and listen, to pay attention to where I am and what is present there in that very moment. I have come to realize that what is often labeled as “boredom” to be avoided, may in fact be nothing more than the “present moment” to be welcomed and embraced.
So perhaps boredom is indeed a “gift” because when we stay with where we are, unplug, sit still, engage in conversations with the people we happen to be with, focus on the task at hand and pay attention to where our are feet are planted, we discover the most wonderful things about our lives.
Another boring day at the beginning of another boring week- what a great time to be “alive.”