“Hey Megan, I’m bored.”
Because they know that if they tell me they’re bored, my head will pop off my shoulders and I will start rambling off a list of world needs and all my ideas about organizations, groups and efforts they could start, including, but not limited to….
A group that makes weekend snack bags for kids leaving school and may not have much food available at home
A group that rakes leaves all Fall for Veterans, shovels their driveways in winter and mows their lawns in the spring.
A group that organizes our town to send daily letters to local military serving over seas
A group that stands in front of grocery stores every Saturday and collects food for the Food Pantry
A group that organizes holiday necessities for families who don’t have the funds for Halloween costumes, Christmas presents etc…
A group of kids to “buddy up” with classmates with physical, emotional or mental issues and could use some extra love at lunchtime in the cafeteria
A group that does food shopping for homebound and elderly people in our town
And so on and so on…..
When I can’t fall asleep at night I lie in bed and think of ways anyone who is bored in Bernardsville could maybe become un-bored through action and compassion.
So this is why most women don’t tell me they are bored.
I am really, really annoying, in that I see boredom as a luxury…and if we have this particular luxury, wouldn’t it be great to reach out to someone who doesn’t have the luxury of having nothing to do. Heartworks just knows too many people caring for sick kids or in need of daily chemotherapy that would LOVE to be bored. But they can’t be. There’s too much going on that needs to be done. People who are experiencing intense grief are rarely bored because there is so much loss and sadness occupying their minds. And if I am not experiencing these things, I want to be respectful to people who are and not allow myself to be bored. I don’t know if people 200 years ago even used the phrase “I’m bored.” 200 years ago I think people may have been too busy surviving…collecting wood for winter and hunting for food and washing clothes by hand. Boredom may just be a sign that we are well taken care of and that we are blessed. Hmmmmmm…
(If you are reading this, and you knew my Dad, you know where I get this from)
One way to work with boredom is to recognize it and then get creative on how to fill the time usually spent in boredom. This weekend my family and I were stuck in a lot of traffic on the way up to the Adirondacks to visit friends and I was thinking about my dear friend Marney who just had a big house fire. Then I started to think about how bored I was sitting in the car listening to a baseball game on the radio and wanted to start complaining about it to Eddie. Then I thought about Marney again and felt like a big jackass. Marney was spending the day going through each and every item in her home having to decide what to send away to be professionally cleaned (which takes 4-6 weeks) or what things that she loved needed to be thrown out due to smoke damage and I’m wanting to complain to Eddie about being bored driving in my comfortable, not smoke damaged car on my way to sip cocktails on a deck while looking at the mountains….Jackass.
So, because I was unable to whip up a snack bag for hungry kids while in the car or rake leaves for a Veteran who risked his life so that I have the luxury of being bored in my comfortable car on the way to the mountains, I decided to start praying for all the kids who could use one of these not-made-yet-snack bags today. Then I prayed for all the people who visit the Somerset County Food Pantry and kids that will need Halloween costumes and kids that struggle with issues at school. Then I prayed for people not able to get to the grocery store and for our active military, veterans and their families, and then for all the people sitting in the stands and playing in the Colorado Rockies vs. Mets game.
Then I didn’t want to stop praying, because I felt less bored and less jackass-y, so I started to pray for the people in the other cars. Even though I didn’t know the people I was passing, I know that because they are alive on the planet, they are struggling with something or someone they love is struggling with something. So I just start praying for the person behind the wheel, the person in the passenger seat and everyone in the back seat. I prayed for them and whatever human challenge is affecting them as well as for all the people they love. I especially prayed for the people who were texting behind the wheel, right after giving them the universal hand signal to hang up while simultaneously mouthing “Get the #*@% off your #*@% phone.” Then I went right back to praying.
As I did this, I start to notice crucifix and rosary beads dangling from rear view mirrors, Buddhist prayer beads resting on a dash board, bible quotes the back of trucks and Jesus bumper stickers galore.
PS- I LOVE a good Jesus bumper sticker, especially when my little Mary Frances yells out “Mom! Mom! Look! It’s Jesus!!!” from the back seat. It is even more awesome when she happens to be wearing her summer bible camp T-shirt while yelling out for me to notice Jesus on the car next to us!
Now, for me, this stuff isn’t so much about the stickers or what the bible quote on the back of a truck is even saying…Its more about how, when we think we are bored, there is a whole world of experience we may be missing. When I chose to step out of boredom and into an elevated way of thinking, I then began to see from an elevated place, which turns into an elevated experience, hence taking care of the boredom and filling me with gratitude, connection and leaving me feeling like less of a jack ass. Prayer helps a lot of things…many times it helps us more than the people we are praying for. On this particular trip prayer snapped me out of boredom and into gratitude. It reminded me that every human being around me is walking a tough path in one way or another and that there is ALWAYS someone or something to pray for.
As Heartworkers, I’m not sure we should ever be bored… there is always prayers that need saying, meals to be delivered, gifts mailed, visits arranged or money to be raised. There is A LOT to do if we open our eyes and move through our initial human experience of being bored, lost or unsure in what we are doing. We have gifts that need to be shared and I swear that you will feel like less of a jackass when you share them.
Reflection – The next time we are bored, fill a need for someone or pray for everyone we know who is struggling and be aware of how it shifts us. Be acutely aware of the gifts boredom has to offer us in terms of perspective, comfort and conection.