Is Your Life Boring? You Can Change It!
BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN SPAIN
MARGARET and Brian were in their mid-50’s when a golden opportunity arose: early retirement with a good pension. It was then that they decided to head south for the sun and beaches of the Mediterranean. No more cares, no more worries—a life of ease awaited them in their seaside chalet.
After two years the dream turned sour. Brian explained: “It all seemed so pointless—day after day with nothing to do. Of course I would swim, play a bit of golf or a little tennis, and talk endlessly to anyone who would listen. About what? Trivialities.”
Gisela, a mother in her early 20’s, has a beautiful little girl. In the afternoon mother and daughter, as usual, go down to the park, where the daughter plays in the sandpile, fully absorbed, happily making sand pies and sand castles. Meanwhile, mom sits on a nearby park bench and watches over her toddler. Or does she? There she sits, her ears glued to her portable radio. Through the smoke of her cigarette, she hardly sees her little child anymore. She is bored to tears.
Peter, a 17-year-old high school student, sits in his room, surrounded by the latest electronic wizardry. He turns on one of his video games, only to discover that it just doesn’t interest him anymore. He has played it hundreds of times already, and he now knows how to beat the machine anyway. Listen to some music? Yet, there is no recording he owns that he hasn’t already listened to dozens of times. Bored to death, he laments: “I don’t know what to do.”
Are You Killing Time?
To be sure, not everyone’s day is dull and gray. Many still live happy and meaningful lives, finding fulfillment by learning new things, by satisfying their creative instincts, and by cultivating good relationships with other people—and even far more important, with God.
However, boredom affects people of all walks of life—1 out of every 3 Germans, according to a recent poll. The ambitious Yuppie who restlessly frequents all the popular entertainment places in town, the unemployed youth who kills time with loud music and cheap beer, the middle-aged blue-collar worker who wastes the weekend watching television, the executive who feels lost when he leaves his office—all suffer from a common complaint: boredom.
Ancient philosophers called it taedium vitae (Latin for weariness of life). In German it is Langeweile (a long while). Time that drags, work that seems to be meaningless, the yearning “to get away from it all” are the all-too-common earmarks of boredom.
Not even the wealthy are immune. After describing the lavish life-style of the big spenders, Time magazine’s Roger Rosenblatt observed: “After the big house and the big garden and the big animals, parties and people, what do most of the world’s big spenders announce? That they are bored. Bored.”
It was thought at one time that increased leisure would be the panacea for boredom. The assumption was that humane working conditions, ending the monotonous drudgery of the past, and a generous amount of leisure time would make life rewarding for the man in the street. Unfortunately, though, it is not that simple. Deciding what to do with all this free time has proved to be more difficult than expected. Many eagerly anticipate all week long an enjoyable weekend, only to find that when it arrives it just doesn’t live up to their expectations.
Boredom’s Negative Results
Some seek escape from boredom by immersing themselves in hyperactivity. Some compulsive workaholics got that way because they just did not know what to do with their time when they weren’t at the office. Others drown their boredom in alcohol or search for excitement by experimenting with drugs. Not a few of the fast-living stars of the entertainment world fill the void, when the applause is over, with drugs such as cocaine. Boredom has been identified as one of the reasons for the ever-growing number of unwed teenage mothers, many of whom may have thought that a baby would fill their empty lives.
Boredom is even being linked to the rising crime rate. Time magazine observed that a number of youngsters leave school at 16 and have nothing to do and that the unemployed of Western Europe, compared with their working peers, are “more likely to commit suicide, more susceptible to drug abuse, more prone to out-of-wedlock pregnancies and more inclined to break the law.” This seems to confirm again the old adage that “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.”—Compare Ephesians 4:28.