I’m bored.

I remember whining “I’m bored” from time to time when I was a kid. Most of us over the age of 30 did. Apparently kids today are saying it less and less often, because they’re never bored. They pick up their phone, their tablet, their game controller, or the remote control.

Back in the olden days, you know, the 70s, do you remember what happened shortly after uttering those words? Our parents would either suggest something to do, which sounded good, and we did it. Or, they would threaten us with chores if we continued to complain about boredom. And with that, we would evaporate from their presence before chores could be unleashed. Out on a farm, 12 miles from a town of 400 people, there didn’t seem to be a lot of choices, but the sheer weight of boredom would force out some creativity. I would go work on my fort in the trees, maybe build something, or pretend I was on some adventure in the barn or pastures. Much of my love of writing comes from being bored and losing myself in a book, or being bored and playing out some story I’d invented in my head. Obviously, being bored isn’t fun, but it makes me sad that today’s kids aren’t enjoying the adventures that come out of boredom.

The problem is, I now feel sad for myself, as well, and doubly so, because I’m trying to launch a creative career. You see, I, too, have ceased being bored. There’s always something to watch on Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu, or Sling. And if that’s not enough to entertain me, I’ll play a game on my phone while watching. Then there’s Flipboard, which lets me read all the news from so many sources and viewpoints, that it’s a black hole that can suck me in, leading me from one story to the next. I might sit down to write, but then YouTube seems infinitely more interesting than pounding out the next chapter. I mean, you can tour abandoned sites, learn about cults from those who’ve left, hear inspirational Ted Talks, watch a video on history, telling yourself it’s research for future ideas, watch music videos… again, a black hole that can suck one in for hours.

And then I complain that I just don’t have time to read. I just don’t have time to write. LIAR! I do have the time for both those things, and if I were bored, I would be clamoring to do them. My mind would be filling the boredom with ideas, just like it did when I was a kid.

So, I am doing something I don’t know that I’ve ever done before. I am making a New Year’s Resolution.

I do hereby resolve to be bored in 2019.

Often and frequently.

I will be getting rid of several of my streaming services. Not all of them. I am not a troglodyte, after all. I will be removing the games from my phone. The iPhone OS now lets you monitor your screen time, and I will keep an eye on that, perhaps creating time limits if I feel that’s necessary. Anybody have any other suggestions?

How often are you bored? What distracts you from boredom? Want to join me in my New Year’s Resolution and get your boredom on in 2019?

Let’s get bored!

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What does that feed?

The move across country has brought many longed for changes, and some that are completely unexpected. Recently I took the time to go through my Netflix queue. Usually there are anywhere between 150-200 movies, documentaries, and TV shows listed there. Most have been there for years. I went through, one by one, and found myself recognizing that I either was no longer interested, or knew I would never take the time to actually watch that show. By the time I got done, I had less than 50 shows remaining. As I thought about what had been cut, it fell into two categories – dark horror/thrillers, and sad documentaries. I thought about my what entertained me while living in LA, and realized much of that repulses me now. I was not expecting that change, and it got me wondering what was behind that shift.

One piece fell into place when recently I was listening to a talk by Eckhart Tolle on my short commute to and from work. He talks a lot about something he calls “the pain body.” According to Tolle, this is his term for the accumulated, old emotional pain that we all carry with us. It is made up of negative emotions that were not processed and dealt with when they arose. We all have a pain body. Sometimes it is dormant, and we don’t even know it’s there. Sometimes it flares up and takes over.

After one of his talks, Tolle was taking questions from the audience and one person asked, “Do violent movies and television feed the pain body?” After a moment of silence, as the entire audience waited for his great and copious wisdom on the topic, he simply answered, “Yes.”

That one word answer was all I needed. The lightbulb went on.

The last few years in LA, I was living full-time in my pain body. Old, accumulated pain completely took over my life. I was not happy at work, at home, on my commute, and especially in my head. I never seemed to get my feet firmly under me before another wave hit and knocked me into a swirl of constant emotional pain.

During that period, you would think I would have sought out the peaceful… the calm.. the quiet, but that is not how the pain body works. Once it is in charge, it feeds the person’s ego and makes it stronger, making it harder and harder to let the pain go. It becomes completely entwined with who the person thinks they are. Let go of the pain? How could I? I would cease to exist. You’re asking me to commit suicide!

Oh, I remember that feeling well.

Now it makes sense that when I wanted to be entertained, I was drawn to the pain of the victim whose life was detailed in a soul-searing documentary. It makes sense that zombies, mega-disasters, and action-packed thrillers filled my queue. Pain, pain, pain! I wanted more pain to feed the pain body that had become me.

Right now my pain body is dormant, and I have no desire to witness pain (which is part of what makes recent events so awful). The pain body is still there. I am well aware that I still haven’t dealt with it properly. It will re-appear, though hopefully I’m better equiped now to deal with it, and hopefully the waves will be smaller and fewer inbetween. But the other thing that will surely help, is that being aware of what I’m drawn to will be a useful tool in understanding whether or not old, accumulated pain is taking over. It will help me deal with it all much sooner, and that’s definitely a good thing.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Letting your pain body grow stronger, is pure suffering.

So, take a lesson from my experience. Look at what entertains you, and ask yourself, “What does that feed?” Adjust accordingly.

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