Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are You Bored?

by Bill Holmes

One of the phrases I often hear or see is "I'm bored".  I don't fully understand that phrase.  I know the definition of bored.    I've been in the company of boring (to make weary by being dull, repetitive, or tedious) people.  I've probably bored people (one that is wearingly dull, repetitive, or tedious).  What I don't understand is how someone not trapped in a completely boring situation can be bored.  How can you be free, alone or on your own and be bored? 
The reason I'm perplexed is that I don't get bored.  I'm sure I've said "I'm bored" at some point in my life, it seems to be a required phrase during the teen years, but I don't remember if, when or why.  I'm not looking down on those who are bored, it's just that I don't understand the concept.

A little background.  I may have an anti-bored advantage.  I grew up as an only child and without the benefit of an extended family.  All the grandmothers, cousins, aunts and uncles lived 1,000 miles away.  I was kind of forced to be my own entertainment.  Once the family supper was done it was time to retire to my room to do homework.  I always had homework.  It's apparently God's (and the nuns) will and a requirement if you go to Catholic school as I did.  It seems like I even had homework during the summer.  When on the rare occasion I didn't have homework, I was out in the neighborhood until dark.  Now I'm not saying that I always did all my homework, but I did always go to my room to at least pretend I did.

My room was not a multimedia hub, I had a state of the art (1960's) transistor AM radio.  It was about 7''x3''x1'' with a 2" speaker and a baby blue plastic case.  The picture of the red radio looks similar in size and style.  Of course my radio was a little more stylish and blue.  I even  had an earphone, not earphones.  There was only one earpiece that looked like a hearing aid and had a removable wire thingy that fit over the ear to hold it in place.  That's OK, the radio was monaural as were the AM radio broadcasts.  A real leather case was also part of the package.  A great Christmas present.  There was only one TV (and four channels) in the house and that was controlled by Dad, although I was the remote control if I was in the room.  Often I didn't care to watch what my parents were watching even after I allegedly finished the homework.  I was content to listen to the radio and/or read.  As I got older, I might call a girlfriend or potential girlfriend.  By the time I became interested in girls we were pretty uptown and had added a second phone in one of the bedrooms.  Not my bedroom, but the folks were watching TV in the living room so I could use the phone in private.  Much better than trying to stretch the kitchen phone cord out the back door.  Guys didn't call each other unless it was to make or confirm plans.  Those conversations were very short.   

Not very exciting by today's standards but I was never bored.  The books were interesting and the songs on the radio were great.  One of the great radio stations was  WAPE, the Big Ape, the Mighty 690.  If you grew up in the southeast in the 1960's you probably heard it.  It was a clear channel 25,000 watt station and later 50,000 watts.  WPDQ, on AM 600, was the other favorite station.  I think there also was a WIVY that had studios in San Marco and broadcast somewhere in the 1200's on the AM dial.  The radio stations were a little more diversified back then.  WAPE and WPDQ were Top 40 stations, but the top 40 might include rock, Motown, surf, British invasion, pop, folk and country.  A few oldies would make the playlist too.  The disc jockeys had personalities and involved the listeners.  Did I forget to mention that there were no FM stations?  They came along in the late 60's.  The books I read were all over the map also.  Almost anything that wasn't required reading was interesting.  I did other stuff too.  All the usual kid and teenage activities including lots of baseball and fast pitch softball and things I can't divulge because my kids might read this.  As we got old enough to drive, we would often pretend to do our homework with friends at the library.  Sometimes we actually did go to or at least drive by the library.

The point is, I spent a lot of time alone growing up.  I spent a lot of time in my room.  During my adult life I've also lived alone often.  Sometimes a little lonely but still not bored. 

I find it hard to believe that in 2013 anybody could be bored.  There are 200 or 300 TV channels, on demand movies and TV shows from multiple sources, $1.20 movie rentals at Redbox.  You got your Xbox, PS3, Wii and handheld gaming consoles.  Smart phones, tablets and PCs.  Books are available instantaneously online, for free at libraries, at old fashioned bookstores or borrowed from a friend.  You can even still get a newspaper delivered every morning either electronically or in a plastic bag on your doorstep.  And one more little thing, the Internet, you can never consume all of its content.  All those things are for entertainment and information.  You could also do some work around the house or yard, go for a walk, jog, run or bike ride.  Go to the fitness center and exercise on electronic machines while watching TV &/or listening to music on your iPod/MP3 device.  Museums are cheap or free.  These can all be done alone.  There are a few million other activities that can be done with family and friends.  There is no excuse to be bored.

I was told or read or heard when I was young that to be bored was a reflection on yourself.  You were not interesting enough to keep yourself entertained or occupied.  You were so self-centered that you expected someone or something to entertain you at all times.  That thought stuck with me.  I never heard my Mom, a stay at home wife/mom until I was 10 or 12, say that she was bored.  I did hear her often say during her whole life that she didn't have enough time to do all the things she needed or wanted to do.  Her body gave out way before her mind or spirit.  Maybe you were lucky enough to be occupied, entertained or stimulated most of your life.  Maybe you never learned how to entertain yourself.  If that's so, I envy your active life but am sad you didn't learn to be self sufficient.  Sometimes a little quiet time with yourself is good.  Daydreams aren't just for kids in the classroom.

There is a myriad of activities to keep your brain and body occupied.  So, if you think you're bored play with your kid(s), go for a bike ride, read a book, surf the Internet, play with your Xbox, watch a movie, perhaps even write a blog or at least a comment about some old fart ranting about bored people.

Seriously, add a comment to this blog.  I'll read it, consider what you say and probably reply.  After all, it will keep you and me from being bored for at least a few minutes.



  1. interesting, my radio was little smaller since i was later 60's and I had FM!

    1. Of course with FM you would need to upgrade to duplex earphones. FM in the late 60's was great. Mellow and no commercials.