“Mom, I’m bored. What is there to do?” The words hang in the air like a slow moving softball, just waiting for the tired red-haired mother of five to smack it back at me. She does not disappoint. “Bored? With all the work there is to do around here? I’m sure there are a few books in the house that you haven’t read more than five times. How can you be bored already? Vacation just started 2 days ago!”
I’m bored. The words are prelude to some of my worst memories. Bored was what we were immediately before we spent an hour or two pelting passing cars with sour oranges. Bored was what we were before the evening of throwing water balloons at the trick-or-treaters who were trucked into the neighborhood from the “colonias”, the outlying areas where makeshift homes had sprung up almost overnight, housing mostly poor migrant workers. We didn’t participate in the “beggar’s night”, but we weren’t going to sit and be bored while they came and took what should have been ours if we had participated.
I’m bored. I’m pretty sure that at least the feeling of boredom, if not those actual words, preceded that fateful evening when a companion and I trashed the construction machinery which was sitting idle after a day of destruction of the habitat. Not that we were conservationists. It was just our habitat! I’ve told you about the visit with the local officers of the law after that incident. For some reason, our search for excitement and interesting activities almost always led to misbehavior and punishment. The boredom was dispelled all right, but not in the way we hoped for!
Why am I writing about this tonight? It’s certainly not because I am bored. But, I have spent the last several days, first stunned, and then heartbroken, because someone I love is entering the punishment phase after that exciting and eventful misbehavior stage. The only problem is that the repercussions are going to continue for quite some time for this person and for all the people who love this person. There is a sweet child in the world this week who has two parents in jail, two parents who are smart, and young, and who had their lives ahead of them. It’s still ahead of them, but it’s not such a bright picture now.
I can just imagine this young pair a few years ago, as they sat on the sofa, watching television. “I’m bored,” the young man might have groused. “Let’s get wasted.” The words sound so innocuous, so banal. We hear them on television and in the movies all the time. “Yeah, I got wasted over the weekend,” just as if it was nothing, which would lead to nothing more. The problem with thrill-seeking is that it usually leads to more exciting thrill-seeking, and eventually the bored person cannot live without the excitement, cannot abide any amount of boredom. They attempt to fill any silence with noise, any leisure time with frantic activity, any empty space with useless things. They even become addicted to the substances they ingest to fight the boredom. Wasted is the right word! Time…wasted, money…wasted, perfectly good children…wasted, whole lives…wasted!
My heart aches tonight for parents who cry for their wasted adult children, for young children who cry for their parents, for friends and loved ones who look on, helpless to do anything for any of them. I don’t have any easy answer, as you’ve become accustomed to seeing in these posts, no glib explanation, no “don’t worry, be happy” slogan. I know that boredom can be overcome, that rewarding tasks are available for those who seek them, that it is possible to live a life without wasting time being “wasted”. I just don’t know how to help these folks, nor exactly how to make this fist in my stomach go away.
I do know Someone who is available for consultations; who designed the product and wrote the owner’s manual (so to speak) and who cares about the broken, wasted people who blanket His creation. And that brings me to another activity that I’ve found helps me tremendously any time I find the boredom (or sadness) taking over, whether it be in the middle of the darkest night or in the light of the longest, most tiring day…I talk to Him. I’m doing a lot of that recently.
Once again, I wonder if that’s too simplistic a way to leave this issue. And, once again, I realize that it’s all I’ve got. But, it seems to me that it will be enough.
“Throw all your worries on Him, because He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7 International Standard Version)
“Do something, so that the devil may always find you busy.”
(St Jerome~Roman priest~347-420)