I’m pretty sure that one of the better moves my wife and I made while raising our kids was to prohibit use of the word bored. We committed plenty of parenting mistakes, but banning the word bored was genius. Every time a child felt contempt for how the world was failing to entertain them, or they’d want to yawn at anything deemed undeserving of their attention, we’d try to use the occasion to refocus the whole family’s perspective.
What I remember about those moments was not just the kids’ indifference or cold shoulder to the world, but the capacity for any of us to turn our backs on the goodness of life. Susan and I were just as capable of behaving as they were in a dull moment, even if we didn’t use the word boring. I knew then, as I do now, that it’s possible to be bored by virtually anything we put our mind to. Heck, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and looking out over geologic majesty can be a boring experience, if we choose for it to be.
I’m convinced that one of the greatest gifts God offers us, however, is a life that is intrinsically interesting and full of daily significance. Not that every day needs to feel juiced up and brimming with meaning. But no matter how listless we may feel on some days, or how undisciplined we are in doing much, enjoying much, or achieving much on other days, there’s always more to life than we can perceive.
When it seems like there is nothing worth getting excited about in the world, we probably ought to ask ourselves whether we’re worth getting excited about. And once we ask that question, it’s time to walk around the block and notice some beautiful things. Gratitude for all that happens beyond the narrow confines of our lives is a pretty good way to overcome inertia.
Enjoy these last days of July, if you can. By official designation, it’s anti-boredom month. So, when these exceedingly high temperatures drop, look for a way to get in an afternoon walk, if you can. Not only may that walk renew some of your vigor for life, it can remind you of what Edith Wharton once called the two most beautiful words in the English language: summer afternoon.