In the bored room

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

– Joseph Campbell

If you want to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your own life, you need to be comfortable in the bored room. It is in the bored room where all important decisions are made. Outside the bored room, those decisions are enacted. Boring through the details of impending action requires attention and focus to specifics. It requires a kind of tunnel vision. It takes a lot of boring through…..

What does it mean to be bored, to have bored through the clutter and debris, the distractions and diversions, that can sidetrack a CEO? Boring through the crusted clutter of debris, of problems and obstructions, is work! Boring is not having nothing to do as much as it is a seeking for something upon which to place our sustained attention and focus. Boring through is a predilection. We strive to get from here to there, which requires boring through clutter, clatter, debris, diversions, distractions, all of which can be labeled with one word: ‘obscurations.’ To avoid boring, we become entangled in obscurations, we seek out ways to avoid approaching the bored room. Anything, but the bored room. In many cases, anything will suffice, but not anything is of enough value to hold our attention and focus required for effective boring. We tend to abhor having nothing to do; but, even when we do find something to do, it involves boring through obscurations. What is typically called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is the mind looking for something to bore into, and through. What we typically understand as ‘boring’ or ‘boredom’ is a mind without a tunnel into which it can bore.

There are so many activities available that can quench the thirst we all have to bore into something. Cooking and cleaning are two very basic, essential and practical activities into which one can bore, if they so choose. One can bore into them with an attitude of resistance or an attitude of exuberance. Once cooking and cleaning is accomplished, many other activities are available into which one can bore. Arts and crafts are a fine activity, an essential activity, for one’s well-being. What we typically call ‘work’ which generally includes social interactions, often requires boring action. A meaningful relationship must necessarily bore through the obscurations to form an authentic, genuine connection with another person. To disregard the potency and importance of boring action, which can take many forms, is to invite ADD wherein the mind will wander, not land on any specific tunnel in which to bore, until it finds one. Once found, the mind will naturally, without much effort, bore into it.

To be left alone with nothing to do and no where to go is the antithesis of boring. To be open, receptive, relaxed, attentive, alert and responsive is existential delight. Too much boring can bring about exhaustion. Existential delight is both remedy and preventative. Whereas boring is tunnel vision, delight is vista vision.

We tend to equate boredom with apathy and indifference. When personally excited, either with a thrilling adventure or a frightening calamity, apathy and indifference vanish. We bore into the experience, by choice if an adventure, by necessity if a calamity. Understanding thresholds of excitement and stimulation can aid in one grasping a way towards more existential delight. Your thresholds of stimulation will determine your degree of excitement or apathy. For example, if you require driving a car at 100 mph to feel stimulated, driving at 50 mph will be dull. At 100 mph, the focus and attention is heightened, it is boring into the immediate experience; there is no ADD. If that focused attention is not sufficiently engaged in something, it will wander towards anything, in hopes of finding a level of engagement, something in which to bore, that is appealing.

In today’s modern world, the threshold of stimulation has been increased, especially visual stimulation and excitement. Our eyes have become accustomed to excessive and heightened sights. It takes more stimulation than ever before to overcome apathy, dullness, indifference, a-motivation, confusion, distraction and diversion, and the various disturbances caused by those factors. To sit in a meeting, for example, a board of directors, to discuss various details and specifics regarding a complex decision to be made, and which requires boring through any number of problems and concerns to arrive at a solution, may generate apathy and indifference, unless the stimulation and appeal rises sufficiently to engage the attention and focus of the mind so it can sustain boring through the obscurations.

The solution may be in part to make the meeting appear appealing. But, a more substantial solution is to lower our own threshold of excitation so that less is adequate. Too much stimulation is overwhelming, too little stimulation is underwhelming. To be engaged, to have the attention and focus to bore through requires just the right amount of whelm. What makes something under or over whelming is our own cognitive processes. One person’s fear is another person’s excitement. One person’s stimulation is another person’s indifference. Practice bringing the tunnel vision of boring into your least stimulating setting. Discover the engagement, the attention and focus possible, when present in the moment. There is a lot going on in the moment. To stop, bore into something, like a miner boring through a tunnel to a spacious cave, can build a quality of space, ease and comfort in the bored room. Is it not better as CEO of your own life to be in a spacious place? To arrive at such a destination requires boring through the walls of obscuration. It is said ‘the kingdom of heaven is within.’ Bore into it. 

“If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself. You need do no more.”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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