ARTICLE. Be Still: Breaking the Barriers of Boredom

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Be Still:

Breaking the Barriers of Boredom

Oh! How we yearn for rest.

So many of us trudge on, our bodies and souls aching. Too heavy with the burden of emotional and physical labour. In this feverish 24/7 society we have become the victims of productivity. And our minds have become dulled. Like an over-used blade they are unable to cut through the meanest of matter. They have lost the ability to carve away all the junk and debris – the unnecessary overspill of daily life. Acuity flees in the face of effort. Our eyes have become glazed over and glassy, our skin pulled too tight, our jaws slackened.

Yes, we long for stillness. To rest from the constant noise and motion that is the symphony of this modern age.

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But rest … what is that?

Perhaps it is the snatched 30 minutes of time we can sink into, knowing it is a nothing but a theatrically painted backdrop – a fake island of palm trees that is hurtling toward reality at a hundred knots an hour? A faux oasis of darkness and scented candles, of bubbles and soothing sounds that all-too-soon will come crashing full force into the grinding stone of this ever-turning mill that we call life.

Perhaps it is the minuscule space squeezed oh so skilfully into the day between the lists of ‘Must-do’s and ‘Have-to’s? Compressed and condensed between the day’s tasks so densely that it becomes the blood diamond of moments. A darkly conflicted but guilty pleasure.

Maybe it is found within the ‘meditations’ we force upon ourselves? All the while cursing our lack of focus – unable to switch off the constant streaming of words and images that track though our brains – pouring through our minds eye like an endless reel of film.

Is it perchance the few hours at the crest of the evening where we can drink ourselves into a sweet oblivion?

Or maybe it is only found during the last vestige of the day when, with heavy lids and fogged but racing brains we submerge ourselves in the softness of our beds. The time in which we sleep, perchance to dream ay; there’s the rub, for in that sleep of life what dreams may come? Dreams that we cannot control; fragile, gossamer things that fade to nothing when we wake only to be forgotten .

But we know though, don’t we! We know in our heart-of-hearts that these are a poor substitute for deep rest. Far too long has our creativity been stifled; far too long our innovation stunted. And so comes the mournful lament of our time:

‘If only there were more hours in the day!’

And yet we fear rest. We fear its emptiness.
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We have become beasts of perpetual motion. Machines that use the friction of our day to oil the infinite movement of our bodies and minds. Greedily filling our time. This carousel we ride upon has enchanted us with its music, its lights and its bright colours. So we are duped into believing there is forward motion to our journey. We are baffled when we cover the same ground again and again and again. Fooled by the patterns we live and re-live. Caged within a stunning contraption that we built for ourselves. Our potential cast aside for the thrill of the ride. Kinetic energy expressed within the endless circular movement of our own cycles.

We abstain from rest like martyrs.

Rest is a yawning abyss that opens up and swallows us whole. A chasm of time that is not filled. A void to be avoided. Within it there is nothing. Nothing but time. Time and self – two things we don’t have to spare or to give. Second upon precious second dropping at our feet like pearls to the swine. Within repose we are forced to come face-to-face with ourselves. Rest contains a glass-smooth lake that reflects back at us our true selves. Its silence screams at us about our regrets and our faults, our sins and our shortcomings. Our fears. Within the depths of rest we are asked to ‘know thyself’ and we twist away from it in horror and disgust. We fall at the first hurdle. It is an obstacle too huge to face. So we gird our loins and stay upon the carousel. We languish on our self-made steeds. We continue on in this human race.

So the old adage that was once ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ has been replaced with:

‘The only thing we have to fear is boredom!’

For our free time has becomes the enemy. Boredom – that space where we must first occupy before we find our peace – is boorish. Rest has become the ennui. It has become a nickname for apathy and slummish languor. Inactivity is a deplorable weakness. Idleness is a sin; a vice for the lazy. Leisure is something to be filled rather than empty. Inertia is a travesty. Retreat a guilty pleasure to be hidden; a luxury none can truly afford. We give side glances of guarded envy and suspicion to anyone who claims to have time to spare.

We have become rest-less.
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Yet our ancestors knew the wisdom of stillness. The potency of darkness. They were familiar with silence. Thy felt the boundaries of their black caves. They were intimate with the depths of frigid winters when a body must slow in order to live. Torpor was a survival strategy. They more easily navigated these pacific waters.

And we long to be rest-full and rested, don’t we?

But to do so we must learn to be stop. Be still. To unplug. To switch off both literally and figuratively. We must break through the barriers of boredom and become familiar with the deep and still waters of restfulness. Allow the glistening surface to give way to healing ripples. Weary bones can be soothed, aching joints freed. If we dare to swim in these peaceful waters then we can reside between the worlds – neither of the heavens nor of the earth we become the children of potential.

There we can remember how to dream and not make dreams our maker.
There we can drink deeply and at last quench our thirst – for we will find that it is less that we require, not more.
There we can learn these truths:
Boredom is the enemy of rest. Preoccupation is a foe to creativity. Exhaustion is an obstacle to innovation. Apathy is an antithesis to growth. The art of busy distraction will ultimately oppose our expansion.

Yes! There is a potent power in learning to do nothing.

And there – there in our quiet tranquility – we can find more time. Time perhaps to gaze at the aching beauty of the stars and plot within their wisdom a map of a new future.