“Were we nuts when we went up to the moon? That’s right. We went up there and you know what we got? Bored.”
You have to hand it to the American cocktail of workoholism and consumption: even when you make fun of it, it’s attractive. I watched this commercial during the Olympics with a measure of righteous harrumph tempered with a secret desire to drive the car.
Here’s the commercial, and I’ll trust you to resist the urge to blow your pledge check on a plug-in Caddy:
The line about being bored is my favorite. Here we are, going into the season of Lent, which we can also think of as “the season of stopping” and not be too far off the mark. The fasts we choose tell a lot about what consumes us these days: food, drink, vices, and of course, media.
If you’re looking for something to “stop,” many of us need look no further than the little media portals in our pockets or the larger compulsions that keep us hooked on them. Why do we fear putting them down for time? If I had to guess, I’d say it was a fear of what Cadillac Man describes with dripping disdain: boredom. We are terrified of being bored.
If a lenten fast involves any of our data-producing trinkets, will we be bored? And what will happen to us when we are?
The answer is: I’m sorry to say, yes. You are going to be bored for a time. You will have no darn idea what to do with yourself. You will feel unproductive and wasteful. But you’ll live.
Boredom may just be something we have to experience for a little while if we are to wake up and see (or simply remember) the difference between our real lives and our ego-fueled fantasies. We are headed into a season in which we have the opportunity to do exactly that.
Boredom is something we fear because it makes us feel less valuable and important, and can have the unconscious message that whatever it is we’re doing, we’re doing it wrong. But if we’re choosing to fast from the hard-driving compulsions of our lives, then a dose of boredom may be an early sign that we’re actually doing it right.