Wait, what? Who wants to be bored?
Like most kids, throughout my childhood I uttered the phrase “I’m bored” with despair and frustration. I wanted something to do. Introspection and reflection weren’t appealing. I probably didn’t even understand those two concepts. I just knew that being bored was about the worst thing on earth.
Even when I reached my twenties the idea of being bored seemed pretty unattractive. I never really desired to watch TV for hours on end or while away my vacation time by sitting on the beach.
More recently, with the duration of our trips limited and so many places to see, Patty and I have almost always packed a lot of activities and sight-seeing into relatively short amounts of time. We can rest when we die, the saying goes.
I finally yearned for a bit of a change from that last year. I wondered if, like the grey hairs near the temples of my head, it was simply another sign I was getting old. Brushing that thought aside we contemplated a trip to an all-inclusive resort where we could “veg out.”
We booked a May stay at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara Cancun for free, using points. Our flights were free (using Southwest Companion Pass), other than airport taxes/fees. We had been taking a lot of trips but I figured that if we hung out at the resort all weekend, with unlimited free food and drink, it would actually mean less money out of our pockets than staying home for the weekend.
As the date of our trip drew nearer we both wondered if we would be bored on the vacation. Never before had we planned or executed a trip for which we never left the resort property. I suspected that by the second day we might be stir-crazy and want to get off the property.
That didn’t happen. We were indeed bored at times but we didn’t think of it that way. As many people are wont to do, we referred to it as relaxing. We read some books and magazines and at other times simply laid there reflecting (I suspect I enjoyed it more than Patty).
After the trip I didn’t analyze it much. It was simply a relaxing trip which was, albeit different from others, enjoyable and rejuvenating.
Fast forward to September of last year… I was reviewing travel-related quotes for a post I published: The 17 Most Inspiring and Thought-Provoking Travel Quotes. Some of the quotes I selected were ones I had known for years, like Robert Frost’s “Two roads diverged…” quote.
I also stumbled onto a new-to-me quote and it really got my brain turning. It was a quote from Aldous Huxley: “Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.”
What an interesting way to think of boredom, I thought. Liberty. Freedom. As a red-blooded American those are two of my favorite words. Boredom: it’s agreeable, not painful.
I thought back to some of our nature-centric trips like our vacations to Yellowstone National Park and the Galapagos Islands. It was so enjoyable to be away from the hubbub of society (we visited Yellowstone in May before the summer rush begins) and to at points simply stop and take in the natural beauty. It felt like we were free of the normal pulls of civilization. We could reflect, we had liberty, we had freedom.
Sunset viewings also came to mind. The idea of spending twenty or thirty minutes to watch the sun set while you’re at or near home seems borderline outlandish. But we’ll often seek out a sunset viewing while traveling. Those tens of minutes, with no other distractions, can be incredibly enjoyable. The boredom is indeed agreeable or pleasurable, and not painful.
Getting opportunities to be bored while at home are usually limited. You have constant distractions and interests competing for your time. Jobs, chores, children and more, all of which make the idea of sitting still and reflecting seem inappropriate. Travel gives you a break from some of those demands and a chance to embrace boredom.
Though I only discovered this Aldous Huxley quote recently, it is now one of my favorites!
With that, it’s time to go plan another trip. Perhaps we’ll go stargazing. I can’t think of a more boring experience than staring at the night sky for hours. 😉
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Do you find yourself appreciating “boredom?” Do travel and boredom go together for you? Or do you think anyone who accepts boredom is wasting opportunities? Share your thoughts in the comments section!