We live in a culture that is always on the go. If we’re not working, we’re thinking about work. Our weekends are jammed packed with activities. Something is always on – a television, radio, computer. Even when we try to relax we can’t help but check FaceBook or our iPhones for the latest messages. This “busyness” is crushing our true power, creativity, and passion.
Even much of what we call productivity is busy work. It’s non-essential. Yet we love it. Like Tarzan swinging from one tree to the next, we swing from one activity to another hoping to maintain momentum. We can’t. We run out of vines and trees. When this occurs, we need to replenish.
Our souls need feeding.
In kids, this “hunger” comes out as boredom. “Mom, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!” They simply don’t know what to do with their down time. Yet, we train our kids to busy themselves like we do. We say, “How about a computer game, honey. Or, what about your favorite show.” In short we help them to fill their lives with non-essential busyness.
While some careful direction can be helpful, boredom needs to be relieved naturally – by a stirring of the heart, if you will…
Dr. Laura Markham, puts it this way. Although directed at kids, it’s applicable to adults:
Unstructured time also challenges children to explore their own passions. If we keep them busy with lessons and structured activity, or they “fill” their time with screen entertainment, they never learn to respond to the stirrings of their own hearts, which might lead them to study the bugs on the sidewalk (as Einstein did for hours), build a fort in the back yard, make a monster from clay, write a short story or song, or organize the neighborhood kids into making a movie. These calls from our heart are what lead us to those passions that make life meaningful, and they are available to us even beginning in childhood, when we are given free rein to explore and pursue where our interests lead us.
As adults, we have learned all kinds of ways to keep ourselves going. We have the technology and the experience. Unlike kids, we can plan ahead – sometimes weeks and months. We can avoid boredom indefinitely with busy work. But all this busyness saps our power, creativity, and passion.
When we turn everything off and sit with our thoughts, amazing things happen. We start to think! The ideas that continually get pushed aside by our busyness begin to gel. Being quiet, whether through prayer, meditation, walks in the woods, etc have all been critical practices of the great thinkers and teachers.
The things that spin out of my mind when I sit quietly range from dangerous to profound. This is why I like prayer. I can turn to God, trusting that he has the best intentions for me. As I build my relationship, the creative juices start to flow. I can’t think of a better partner to kick ideas around with.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson