What To Do When Bored In Any Situation


I’m never bored. It’s not because I have some magic list of what to do when bored. I just don’t experience boredom, perhaps in the same way that a sociopath doesn’t experience empathy. 

In the past I’ve tried to explain this to bored friends (who were certainly not bored from hanging out with me, ahem, but rather prone to boredom in general) but I couldn’t quite explain why I am immune to boredom and its hip French existential sidekick, ennui

But now I know why. 

A few days ago I drove from the library to the tire repair shop in town. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that exact combination of errands, actually I’m quite sure that I haven’t. But this little mountain town is small. There’s one highway and a couple main roads, so no matter what you’re out doing, you’re using the same few streets. Routine, familiar, ordinary . . . 

But suddenly on this mundane drive, I am awe stuck.

I realize that I’ve never done this before. I’ve never experienced this exact moment. The familiar highway has never had this precise quality of light, I haven’t breathed this exact scent in my car of warm tea and camping gear and something musty that I can’t identify. I don’t think I’ve ever worn these socks with these pants and my jacket is new. I’m a little bit sleepy for this time of day but also in a really good mood. And every second that passes by, it all keeps changing. The present moment perpetually unfolds in a relentless wave of novelty . . .

And how long will this go on for? How long has it gone on for? Can such creativity be infinite?

I’ve always experienced the novelty inherent in life but I somehow didn’t notice myself noticing it, so I couldn’t articulate the mystery. Suddenly I have the words to explain the wonder that I feel. It’s as if I’ve found the cure for boredom. How can I bottle this up and share it with the world?

I’m still baffled at the tire shop. I’m there because my pressure sensor light came on again, and last week it was from a nail in my front tire. This time, I’m standing next to my car while a young man checks the pressure. We can only see each other’s eyes because we are wearing face masks. He scans my tires with some high tech gizmo and informs me that I don’t actually have any sensors. Apparently it was just a coincidence that last week there was a nail in my tire. I’m not sure how to feel about this. Hmmm. Why does my car have a light if there aren’t any sensors? 

How does reality come up with these moments? 

And it appears so effortless. Whereas while I sit here writing, attempting to convey my thoughts in a way that will feel engaging to a reader, I can assure you that my process is not effortless. At times it even feels futile. I often pause to drink some of the borscht that I made from scratch. The exact flavor of those beets and black peppercorns and one lemon will never be replicated. Every sip I take, the background noise is different.

I apologize to any readers who were hoping for some quick fix or list of one hundred tricks to thwart the dullness of everyday life, or any actual list of things to do when bored. Though I could come up with one . . . with ideas like pick up your phone, or go eat a snack . . . but we already know all these tricks.

But really, the beautiful thing is that there isn’t anything to do. All I can offer is pay attention. Witness. Notice what is new in every passing second. This exact moment has never happened before. And it will never happen again.