Published on July 2nd, 2013 | by Dan Walsh3
The Busy Trap
Boredom is the mark of a good vacation to me. Itineraries be damned, I’m just going to sit here and soak up my environs, even if that means I don’t get to see another mid-century spanish cathedral. I’ve been bored in Thailand, Argentina, Costa Rica, and India – sometimes for weeks at a time. I appreciate it for what it is: true unwinding. It can be unnerving at first – even uncomfortable – but I’m always happy for it because I don’t get the opportunity back home. I’m usually too busy to devote hours or days to nothing. It’s remarkably wonderful to sit on a rooftop patio with a coffee and just soak-in the Costa Rican jungle. The Busy Trap, by Tim Kreider, reminded me that I can justify some nothingness even without a trip to the international terminal.
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets… The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
I’ve always appreciated the perspective that travel and idleness provide, but I didn’t untangle the two entities until after I read this article. I needed the space and disconnect of a foreign locale as a valid excuse to become bored. Otherwise I would schedule myself to the hilt. I have fallen into the busy trap before. I can attest that it feels validating to be “too busy”.
I could see why people enjoy this complaint; it makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon… Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
I’ve begun scheduling larger and larger blocks of time for myself to be bored. They are black holes on my calendar with nothing in them. Yes, I felt silly for telling my friends I couldn’t hang out because I had nothing planned. But so far it’s been remarkably wonderful to sit on my patio with a coffee and just soak-in San Francisco.
Source: The New York Times
Image: Brecht Vandenbroucke