Are we there yet?
Boredom has been a topic on my mind for years. It’s something I rarely feel but hear that others experience quite often.
I’ve been suspecting that what’s called “loneliness” is often boredom and tight-knit groups over-concerned with the actions of its members are also, to me, experiencing boredom.
The gossip of families and the workplace, for me, stem from the boredom of knowing everyone’s habits. Before your Thanksgiving dinner with the family you know who will be late, who will complain about the gravy and who will be first to take a nap. You know it before it happens (oh psychic you) so there is a sense of boredom (or frustration) when it occurs.
Did you hear that Uncle Bob is having an affair?
Boredom doesn’t seem to be about being with others or being alone. Extroverts seem bored when alone and introverts seem bored when in a group where no common interests are shared.
Confusion is less confusing. Many, many moons back I created my own diagnostic label of “chronic confusion” for those that can’t make choices in life. Having confusion about marriage partners or home purchases makes sense – those are big decisions. But whether to have steak or chicken at the restaurant shouldn’t consume one’s life energy.
Tangled Christmas tree lights.
Today there are many more mental health labels, which I find confusing. Any illness relating to mental processing speed is under the label “attention deficit disorder.” We in the West have so many choices for the simplest of decisions – buying paper towels, for example, so that those plagued with chronic confusion are faced with circumstances that aggravate that illness.
Who can live in the West and not have attention deficit disorder?
Paper towels, again, come in packs of one, two, six or even more. Today there are paper towels with designs, some white. To enhance the product, some paper towels are a big square and others are smaller rectangles that can be torn to make smaller paper towels or not torn to make a regular size paper towel.
Then there are brand names and generic.
Recycled and not recycled.
Wow, so many choices! How much time in a precious day of minutes should I spend on this decision? Interestingly, men seem to spend less time thinking about these things than women, but that’s another subject.
The Wellspring of Boredom and Confusion
As a meditator, it is very difficult to explain to folks in the West why one would choose not to “do” stuff and sit quietly, reducing the reaction to external stimuli. Thirty minutes of silence taxes the Western mind and some meditators choose to do this for days or weeks at a time!
Life is about reacting to the environment, right? What else is there?
The Wikipedia entry describes “boredom” as:
“. . . an emotional state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, and not interested in their surroundings.”
The entry goes on to say that the first recorded use of the term boredom occurs in the novel “Bleak House” written by Charles Dickens in 1852.
Is it possible that this feeling called boredom was not experienced until the 1800s? Hey, didn’t life get easier in the 1800s? Hey, wasn’t that the start of the industrial revolution?
Are (were) hunter-gatherers ever bored?
Confusion, on the other hand, according to Dictionary.com, is “lack of clearness or distinctness.” Another definition is “disorder, upheaval, tumult.”
Can thoughts cause disorder, upheaval and tumult? Are thoughts that powerful?
Boredom seems a lack of reaction to the environment and confusion about excessive reaction to the environment.
Boredom looks at the menu and says all Chinese food is the same at every restaurant.
Confusion looks at the menu and wonders why General Tso named an entrée (Or was it named after him for some reason?), if General Tso’s Chicken is different from Empress Chicken (Which empress?) and if the white or brown rice is better for you (What’s the difference anyway?).
There’s one menu. Boredom and Confusion see it differently.
Being an astrology blog, we’ll move on to that symbolism. We don’t need it, of course, but why not have some external environment labeling fun? This additional labeling, of course, might cause confusion in some and is not recommended for all.
The third house of the horoscope and its ruler Gemini (the third sign) are viewed as the energy of the infant turned toddler who now understands that mommy and I are separate beings (first sign Aries sense of self), there are objects in the world (second sign Taurus sense of material reality) and that interacting with the external world is fun (third sign Gemini sense of stimulation).
Gemini is the mobile over the crib, turning and clicking to create stimulation to help the infant develop. No stimulation, no development.
The sign after Gemini is Cancer, the sign of mothering, milk and things oral (if you ask me). That a toddler’s first response is to put something in its mouth is very telling about how we experience reality. Gemini rules the hands and the hands feed the mouth.
Mercury is the planet that rules Gemini so the sign, placement (a house in the horoscope) and aspects (geometric relation to other planets) can describe our boredom-confusion continuum.
Mercury is the messenger god. In our psyche, who/what is the deliverer and whom/what is the recipient?
Meditation Boredom, Meditation Confusion
Those beginning meditation seem to experience the boredom – confusion continuum at one of the extremes.
Why are you sitting and doing nothing when your friends invited you to the movies?
As a meditation teacher once explained, once you sit and remove yourself from talking to the external world (in a silent retreat), the internal voice can get much louder. Confusion.
I wonder what we’re having for lunch.
Others, when they sit still for thirty minutes, wonder what they will “do” during that time.
In daily life, boredom and confusion seem unpleasant extremes on the continuum of observing and responding to the environment.
In meditation, boredom and confusion are doors into the server room of the mind, the place where we see how the the master computer and network settings create the images on our personal computer.