Sunday, November 04, 2012

Boredom And Self-Denial

After listening (again) to Matthew Kelly on fasting, I did some more reading about self-denial (to be blogged about later) and some noodling (I don't have a parenthetical comment here, I've apparently just gotten into the lazy, stylistically crude habit of adding them) and came to the same conclusion that lots of people came to long before me. Being a blogger, I consider my insights to be so enlightening, unique and revolutionary that I have to share them with you.

Self-denial is incredibly hard when you're bored.

You can stop reading now. I'm done. The rest of this post is repetitive and trite. I put that part in a bold, underlined font so you could see the key takeaway and, well, take it away.

For those of you bored enough to keep going, here's the vignette from my memory that triggered this thought. I've always loved the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series from the 1980s and in A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes describes why he uses drugs.

Recalling that scene, I realized that my recent ennui at work and laziness here at home has weakened my ability to practice self-denial. The solution, as Tony Alicea says, is big dreams and bold thoughts.
If you’re bored, you aren’t dreaming big enough. Or maybe you have dreamed big, but you’ve filled your time with so many other things that your dreams are forgotten. You become discouraged at the course your life has taken and you feel like those dreams are now just irresponsible.

Boredom is a dream killer. It is toxic to someone that wants to live a life of purpose and intentionality. It will lull you into believing that life is just about getting by.
I highly recommend reading Tony's entire post. It's filled with good stuff. Elsewhere, Matt Maher talks about boredom and prison gossips.
(T)oday I watched an inmate go from one area to the next spreading gossip from another unit. Most of the idle words are just prison non-sense, but occasionally there is information that can really get somebody hurt. In an already hostile and vulnerable atmosphere, busy-bodies are the worst type of inmates and it is evident that their behavior is prompted by boredom and low self-esteem...

Boredom leads to idleness which creates busy-bodies, who cause trouble and divide. All inmates alike still have a choice: the choice to take part in idle living or the choice to strive for ideal living. I believe that either direction starts with an idea. The idea or imagination to see yourself being productive and with purpose, which in return boosts one’s esteem. It is the major difference between “being idle bored” or having an “idea being born.”
Rick James discusses boredom and porn with an excellent summation.
Remember the old saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”? It came from a period of time when people recognized the sin of sloth and the spiritual liability of boredom. If we seek to stop the passive late night web surfing, we must cultivate new, creative, active habits to replace the old. Christianity is never simply the negation of a bad habit, but the concurrent cultivation of Spirit and virtue—nature abhors a vacuum.

Here’s the takeaway from all this: See sloth and passivity as a moral weakness. Begin to confess it, and make choices to break its hold on you. Cultivate creative alternatives. Choose action over inactivity and people over isolation. You are a new creature in Christ, so pursue and cooperate with God’s transformation of your character in the realm of boredom, laziness, and passivity.
For me, boredom makes self-denial impossible. Why not flip on the TV or crack open another Newcastle or surf the web for political snarling or play another game of Age of Empires? It's not like I've got something better to do and besides, it won't take long. I can get back to my humdrum existence later.

It's the "humdrum" that kills you. Without self-denial, you can't accomplish anything of value. Boredom must be recognized as the enemy of life that it is. (If you don't fight it, you'll find yourself developing awful habits, like using parenthetical expressions in your prose.)


Doo Doo Econ said...


Mostly Nothing said...

I look forward to a little boredom now and again. Life has been pretty crazy lately,I look for some normalcy, and I look for a little boredom, to just decompress. My surfing is typically technical, I don't like politics and social media is for the most part, well, boring.

As you know I loved Britt in Sherlock Holmes. I probably still have many of those episodes on VHS. May have to pull some out.

Have you seen the commercials for the modern Holmes. I think he's in NYC? Looks dreadful.Has nothing to do with Holmes.

Other than the books of Holmes in Minnesota, I've never been able to stomach any other Holmes. Jeremy 'ruined' all others for me.

I'm re-reading 'Hound' currently.

K T Cat said...

MN, you've been through a lot lately. No wonder you're looking for some boredom.

I've seen the new British Sherlock series and like it. It's set in modern London, but the characters are still fairly true to Conan Doyle. I'm still a Jeremy Brett fan through and through.

Tim Eisele said...

The new British Sherlock isn't quite as good all-around as Brett, but he certainly has the "Holmes as an obsessive near-sociopath who doesn't suffer fools" thing down.