Both in our thoughts and our life, it’s the ups and downs that get our attention. We most likely remember both the darkest and the highest of times –but not the times we were waiting for the bus to arrive. Our mental climate is like a Jacuzzi of bubbling chatter in which we hang out, until there is something either painful (some emotional pang of the past) or glorious (the big epiphany of the day) that wakes us up from the lukewarm water.
Let’s face it; we find middle ground boring. Neutral is a no-no. We associate it with mediocrity and dullness. Yet, think about it. The biggest chunk in our minds and lives are made up out of this neutrality, the unknown faces we pass daily, the humming of our refrigerator in the background, the uneventful stuff. By numbing to neutrality, we miss out on the majority of our life.
The Buddhist traditions got this. Anyone who has ever done more than 15 minutes of meditation knows that being bored is kind of inevitable. This is not just an unhappy side effect. By getting bored we discover the gigantic part of our life that we plug out from. That we overlooked because it wasn’t dramatic or interesting enough. Yet as Sakyong Mipham encourages us in his poem ‘Midnight and open warmth’:
Let us not be overcome by the notion of normality
That has bound our sense of freedom.
Conquer the moment.
Conquer the boredom of feeling space.
This last line has stayed with me on many occasions. Being somewhat of a drama queen myself, it’s easy for me to get addicted to action, praise and blame, speed and flashlights. Filling space, avoiding boredom, means missing the freedom that space holds. And it’s exactly in this freedom, this space where the one and only real, magical conversation can take place; not with life as you want it to be, but with life as it is.
There is no such thing as being bored. As the poet David Whyte says “boredom is an absolute failure of the imagination.” And I agree with him. It’s our ability to see things as they are –which is ALWAYS different, more layered and mysterious than we thought- that determines whether we buy into the illusion of boredom.
I’ll leave you this weekend with the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
The real miracle is not to fly or walk on fire. The real miracle is to walk on the Earth, and you can perform that miracle at any time.