My father’s latest invitation to his place outside Leiper’s Fork, Tenn., included this unique enticement – boredom.
“Spend some time here,” Daddy encouraged. “It would be good for you to get a little bored; to not really have anything to do and keep not having anything to do.”
We’ll head up to my parent’s single-wide trailer in the hills of middle Tennessee in a couple weeks. But I’ve been thinking about my father’s encouragement to be “bored.” Usually I avoid boredom like a slacker’s plague. In our house, “I’m bored” is a vile profanity, something I reward with shocked lectures and lots of housework. We are doers and creators, which means we are never bored.
Yet here’s the wise man who raised me suggesting that boredom might be good for me; even essential to rest and refreshment. He knows I need both. He’s also learned some things in his 60s that I’d be wise to pay attention to in my 40s.
Even on vacation, there can be a breakneck tendency to see and do stuff, rather than just be. Which is what I was thinking of yesterday, when we spent the entire day doing nothing on purpose. Early in the morning, Daddy Rooster settled into a good book and stayed there for hours upon hours. Later, I joined him with my own reading and writing. We barely moved from the porch all day.
We left the kids to their own devices. After all, there was an entire house, lake, boat house, and various floating things to occupy them. You’d think that would be their dream come true, but not at first.
They kept interrupting our relaxation with questions: are we going somewhere; when are we going swimming; what are we eating for lunch? Repeatedly, we told them to figure it out for themselves because we, as in Daddy Rooster and me, were staying right where we were.
Eventually, the kids figured out what to do. They read, journaled, wrestled, canoed, heated up leftovers, ate an entire watermelon, fought, pushed each other into the lake, and consumed at least 30 popsicles.
Daddy Rooster and I spent a glorious day not having to do anything and enjoying every minute of it. It felt like a vacation. Relaxing and just a tad boring, in the best possible sense of the word.
For good measure, I asked the kids to clean up the kitchen. Nobody complained.