How much thinky thinking can I do?
You’d think that hanging out with a pre-verbal human would lead to a bit of boredom, mental talking to oneself, etc. But the fact is that this is just how it always was for me, with the possible exacerbation caused by my lack of medication. I can’t take ADD meds while I’m breastfeeding.
The fact that I’m thinking enough to bore myself and tire myself is a sign that I’m recovering from the beginnings of being a mother. I’m guessing this only because it’s the same thing that happens after I’ve been pretty sick; it’s the bad-patient stage where I’m too tired to do what I want and have enough energy to be cranky about it.
Coincidentally, I just read something about boredom- I read it in The Week, my favorite news magazine, but it came from the Boston Globe originally. This article quotes the ADD community’s own Edward Hallowell, saying:
"If you think of boredom as the prelude to creativity, and
loneliness as the prelude to engagement of the imagination, then they
are good things[…]They are doorways to something better,
as opposed to something to be abhorred and eradicated immediately."
I read this and thought, how dare you Ned Hallowell! That seems rather harsh. The thing is, ok, we know that one of the characteristics of ADHD is a low threshold for boredom. And yes, I get that a lot of us in general are developing an ADHD-similar low threshold and low tolerance for boredom. That low tolerance is what the article is about; we have so many sources of stimulation to turn to so easily, that we’re not used to the absence of mind candy, and the presence of empty space.
Now I’m overjoyed to live in a neighborhood where kids play outside all day, and have enough genuine play time to make stuff up, invent games, imagine scenarios, and all of that other stuff current culture seems to aim to remove a need for. And I remember doing that myself, and making up imaginary worlds all by myself.
As an adult, I’m all for taking one’s quiet time and all that. But I just think this quote is doing us some injustice.
For me boredom is, with much practice, learning, and coping, a prelude to doing something that gets me out of a spiraling pit of pure thought and back into the world, at least slightly out of my head, and, say, noticing that I have four limbs and the ability to occasionally get up and do something instead of sitting and imagining doing something.
Before knowing myself as it were, and knowing what boredom did to me, I could sit an think of doing things all day, but never get out of the mental loop. Didn’t seem much like a prelude to anything at all. Was potentially depressing. So I’d rephrase his quote: If you think of boredom as the prelude to getting conked over the head with something interesting to do, you might change the situation/room/physical state you’re in when you’re bored so that maybe you’ll notice that you could actually do something.
Of course, my concept of boredom is merging here with my general understanding of (a) thinking too much and (b) being in one’s head and possibly (c) inattentive crap in general. And far be it from me to say that thinking is boring. So to clarify, the point is that waiting for boredom to descend in its full glory isn’t necessarily for me. In fact, all those types of mental crack that the article criticizes, are the kinds of things that can get me out of that state of un-ending thinking. They are sometimes stepping stones to the very creativity Hallowell wants me to find. They are the doorways between my own private bubble and, say, getting out of that bubble. There’s too much else to say on this subject, but now that I’ve started speaking my mind, I’m out of my head enough to go get a cup of tea.