blue bike

Get bored

avatar
About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

As you start this week, may you get bored. There’s something magical that happens when we intentionally shut off our brain for a short time, close out the calendar, and just… sit. Take in the moment around us. And not do absolutely everything in our power to be distracted by nothingness.

Now, I realize that many of us are parents, so you might be thinking, “Um, bored? How could I possibly be bored? I don’t have two seconds to myself.” I get that. I do. But if you’re anything like me, you probably still find ways to fill in the perfunctory gaps in your day—waiting in the carpool line, standing at the grocery checkout line, or those few quiet moments before you turn off the bedside lamp.

As a culture, we have such a hard time with doing nothing that many of us aren’t two feet away from a pocket-sized computer we call a smartphone, handy just in case we have to wait for anything. I’m right there with you. It’s a habit I’m trying to break.

The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry. -Kathleen Norris

I have a chapter in my book dedicated to boredom. In it, I mention that boredom is a relatively new concept. In the eighteenth century, no one was bored. If you were bored, you were probably on your way to certain death, because if you wanted to eat, you had to work. There was no time or energy to be bored.

But now, we are so used to being amused that we can hardly stand the thought of having nothing to do. Entertainment, in all its forms, is so easily accessible in our technology-soaked culture; we can hardly imagine a life where it’s not an arm’s reach away. My immediate reaction is to check Instagram or my Facebook feed, or to pin stuff on Pinterest. It’s to clog my fingers and brain cells with busyness, or at least the illusion of busyness. Like, like, like, pin, pin, pin. Keep busy.

This week, may you begin it by slowing down and embracing a little good old-fashioned boredom in your life. You never know what you might notice for the first time.

Book news

Notes From a Blue Bike releases tomorrow, and to celebrate, Thomas Nelson (the publisher) is extending the free gifts for all purchases made this week. Head here to read what they are! So gracious of them.

And check this out—no, really; check this out: they are giving away a trip to… well, you’ll just have to see. Seriously, though. It’s cool. I wish I could enter. Here’s a clue:

disney
Photo source

An invitation for you

Here’s how I’m going to celebrate this week: I’m inviting you to join me on a little bike ride. Each day, I’m going to write a short post about one of the five topics I explore in the book—food, work, education, travel, and entertainment. And in tomorrow’s post, I’ll have a linky for you to add your post as well.

If you want to join in, feel free to write about anything related to how you’re learning to live slower and with more intention. To get your gears greased, a few post ideas might be:

• Why is it so hard to slow down in our fast-paced culture?

• How you choose to swim upstream and make choices different from the surrounding culture

• How you (or your family) have benefitted from slowing down

• How you (or your family) have struggled because you’re living too frenetically

• When it comes to your work, what is your definition of “enough”?

• Why local/seasonal/slow food matters to you

• How any overseas or cross-cultural experience has shaped your current worldview

• Why you’ve chosen a particular path for your children’s education

•  Your personal (or your family’s) definition of entertainment

• 1, 2, 3, or whatever-numbered things you plan to do to make your life better/simpler/more intentional

• Your crazy, unconventional dream, and why you’re pursuing it (even though the culture says it can’t happen)

Feel free to add this button to your post (though it’s not required):

Notes From a Blue Bike Blog Tour

I’ll leave the linky up from Tuesday, February 4 through Friday, February 7, and then I’ll link to that post one final time on Saturday so we can read all the posts over the weekend. Should be a lot of great reading.

Oh, and one final thought—reader meet-ups and book signings will now be here, included just as soon as details are finalized. I’ll do my best to mention when more dates and places are added!

What are your thoughts on boredom?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I am so excited for your book launch, you have no idea!!! I have been waiting and watching this book come together and I am dying to read it… Wishing you all the best with the busy-ness of launching from a chilled out summer in Cape Town.

  2. YES! I am a huge advocate of boredom! I wrote the following in a recent blog post:

    Back in 1992, a train broke down on its way to Clapham Junction, and its passengers were stranded for 4 hours. No smartphones, iPads, Facebook, Instagram or general connectivity to pass the time. One passenger on the train sat there and composed the plot for a work of fiction in her head. That person happened to be J. K. Rowling. Not a bad use of four hours.

    Doesn’t that give you shivers down your spine? The thought of what earth shattering feat we may be missing out on accomplishing thanks to our smartphones (schmartphones!)

    xx

  3. Praying for a wonderful week for you, Tsh! So excited to hop on my bike alongside you. xo

  4. I am new to your blog and pleased to read your boredom piece.
    I had a conversation with another parent at school about the upcoming holiday’s.
    She told me about her itinerary for her kids, every day filled with an activity and asked what my plans are.
    Imagine her horror when I told her I had no plans, we would take each day as it comes, playing out, rambles in the park or perhaps nothing at all.
    ‘But won’t the kids get bored’ she cried.
    Boredome is the mother of invention I replied, how can kids ever learn about using their imagination when their time is filled with activities.
    I am enjoying a childfree morning at home, my youngest has recently started nursery, and I spent a glorious hour this morning doing nothing, no radio, no t.v, no technology, just me my sofa and silence.
    Bliss!

  5. This is so true. I think sometimes we are afraid of facing our own thoughts so we fill our minds up with stuff (even good stuff) and live in constant noise. Thanks for the reminder!

    I’ll join you this week! Very excited about reading your book whenever it arrives on my door stop!

  6. Hi Tsh,

    Great post as usual. I’m mainly here to wish you GOOD LUCK tomorrow. The book money was just taken out of my bank account, so I assume my book is on the way. I know you’re in for a couple of crazy weeks. I hope everything goes well :).

    Allie

  7. Kim Payne talks in Simplicity Parenting about the importance of letting kids get bored and not always “entertaining” them. I think the same is true for us…
    Good luck this week!

  8. I’m interested in going ahead and buying your book, but I plan to be at the Palm Door on Thursday in Austin, and I’d love to get your signature in my book. Should I plan to buy my book there to get the signing? (I’ve been to book signings before, where to get the signature, you had to buy the book there. No buy book, no get signature).

    • You can bring a book you’ve already bought, or you can get one there – either way is great. It’s not “required” to buy one there. :)

  9. We did not install a dishwasher until our three children were 14, 16, and 19. I found that I missed doing dishes. That was my thinking time and I loved looking at the outdoors thru my kitchen window. I think of it as a bit of mind boredom and love it.

  10. Those times of boredom are honestly my favorite time of the day. They don’t come often, a large family will do that, but when they do, I relish it. No TV, no phone, no music- just utter silence. That’s how I can finally collect my thoughts after a day of chaos.

  11. I think our inability to be be “bored” is having dire consequence on our culture. Our brains just cannot stop “consuming” for one minute and the result is we cannot think and use our minds and imaginations like we used to. My own constant stimulation is taking its toll on my life for sure. Worse is that we impose this on our kids by scheduling every minute of their day. I used to cringe hearing my kids say “I’m bored” now I think, “Awesome, boredom might lead you somewhere wonderful”. My cousin and her family have one hour of no electricity or technology every evening. No lights only candles, no tv, computer, dishwasher, laundry etc. They have to just chill with a book, board game or absolutely nothing.

    • Ooh, one hour of no technology sounds amazing. And probably harder than it initially sounds.

      And yes, when my kids say they’re bored, I literally say, “Good! Go find something to do.”

  12. I distinctly remember asking God to let me be bored again somehow a while back… the first few years of our marriage we were both working a ton (self-employed), in school, trying to run a household, figuring out how to be married, keeping up with friends, and dealing with my chronic pain/fatigue. I wanted so badly to slow down and tap into the boredom I felt as a kid so often! Instead it felt like we were in a rat race dictated by our debt and season in life. We had some wonderful times, in spite of all that, but it was definitely a treadmill!

    A recent move and lots of “bored” time before we made new friends has opened up creativity in my life again in a whole new way… it led me to quit my job, utilize my bored time (which isn’t as much fun when you’re in constant pain, but at least it allowed me to dream of what I could do when I DID feel good again!), and head down a whole new path in life.

    Now things are a little more balanced and we have some great people in our lives again, but I still have lots of down time as well as productive time when I’m feeling good. I am savoring the slower pace and ample time for deep/creative thoughts, knowing all too well that it will shift again if/when we start a family!

    • “I wanted so badly to slow down and tap into the boredom I felt as a kid so often!” <— Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

      And yes, in the book I talk about exactly what you’ve said here, how boredom so often unleashes amazing creativity. Right there with you.

  13. Oh, I hear you on the “like, like, pin, pin.” One of my goals this year is to be more intentional with those gaps in my day–the ten minutes here or there that I’m usually so quick to fill with FB, etc.

    On a lighter note, I used to have this little song about being bored that I would sing to my husband when I was, well, bored. (It was very Frances the badger :)). I realized the other day that I have not sung said song since I had children ;).

  14. I once had someone tell me that they intentionally would look for the longest line at the grocery store so they could practice patience. Now whenever I think of it (and have the time) I try to do the same thing just to slow myself down. Even when I have the kids we’ll find a long line and wait, play, and enjoy the few extra minutes where we have no where to be except there, waiting together.

    So excited for you and the new book! (And honestly, proud of how you’ve responded to the criticism regarding the giveaways.)

  15. I was a big activity planner…until I came down with flu. Real flu, that knocked me down. Instead of my usual crafts, games and whatnot, I spent long stretches of time doing nothing. At first, my kids were looking to me for direction. Soon, they gave up and a beautiful thing happened. My house was taken over by “bad guys” and my 4yo and 2yo were saving the day. Oh, if I could have transcribed that narrative…

  16. I can honestly say I love being having long moments where I just sit and think. Each day we have quiet time in the house–EVERYONE, just sit with our thoughts. When the kids say they are bored–I add 15 minutes, so they can think about what they might do . . . not to be bored.

    Your words are a blessing.

  17. Did you follow the last link in your post? The one that says ‘here’ next to reader meetups? It has some content issues! But I am looking forward to reading your book!

  18. avatar
    MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I couldn’t get the contact form on my iPad to write directly…but I’m getting a strange page when I click on the “here” above to find out about the book signings…it brings me to an, ahem, inappropriate page. My just be me…but thought you’d want to check :0)

  19. Love this post! We just moved to the other side of the world, and making new friends and finding new community leaves one with quite a bit of “boredom,” but I am trying to leave space to explore who I can be and the path laid out for me. I think the silence is key for connecting with God for me, too. I just heard a great new song today called, appropriately, “Silence.” It is on iTunes by Luminous City, and touches on this very subject.

  20. What a thoughtful yet true post! People definitely do anything to keep busy these days and in a moment of nothing to do, they seek out ways to fill their time. We need to enjoy those moments of boredom!

  21. Just purchased your audiobook. I’m looking forward to listening to it this week! :) Congratulations on your book launch and thank you for the link-up.

  22. Hey, nice article.
    I think most people get bored easily these days because we need constant stimulation from the outside world. Being a bit of a health freak myself, I’ve found as I get healthier I am more content to enjoy the moment (in a bit of meditation) without the need to external stimulation and don’t really get that feeling or boredom much any more.
    What are your thoughts about being healthy and not getting bored?

Speak Your Mind

*