The entertainment-fueled boredom

When I saw this video title I knew exactly what it was going to be about. And I knew who he would be targeting. I realized that I, the guy who sat in a kayak paddling with no sights on the horizon besides blue sky intersecting with blue ocean, the guy who spent nearly 400 hours of driving and sleeping time in my car this summer, the guy who walked from Maine to Virginia for over four months, was now capable of being bored.

It is a foreign feeling to me in the detached world where entertainment is feeding a fluttering flame or chasing miscellaneous rodents away from my belongings. In the woods boredom is all but nonexistent but in civilization, surrounded by entertainment it is an all too common feeling. Many people would brush this off as us being spoiled and rotten, snobs of the twenty-first century. But I would argue it is far from that. It is exactly the entertainment that creates the boredom. I can sit still for hours, days, even months with not even a book to read and be immensely happy. But a few nights ago I had to actually challenge myself to go to bed before I felt ready, to simply lay there and suffer those moments of solitude and quiet with nothing to distract me from my own thoughts.

It amazed me how quickly I let myself become this entertainment consumer after an entire summer of peaceful simplicity. But when I lay in my bed last night, reflecting on the day, I realized how a seemingly very productive day really didn’t accomplish anything. It was as if I had been shoving another bite in my mouth without taking a second to swallow the last one. And those moments of quiet reflection allowed me that. As hard as the quiet was at first, it was absolutely essential.

I imagine most of us know the feeling that this video is addressing, and we probably could wonder when exactly it happened to each of us. I doubt that many are immune to it. In a world where we are surrounded by easy entertainment and information, the challenge is to refuse consumption and to relax and digest the recent bit. Backpacking is my outlet for long term reflection and escape. But for day to day, I think it’ll seriously help me to turn off the music, put down the book, cut off the TV, lock the phone and genuinely enjoy existing, in the moment, with no distractions, and allow myself to explore the wilderness inside my own mind.

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