I get bored a lot.
It’s a thing that happens. A couple of people with enough context that their opinion on the subject is not essentially meaningless have argued it’s because of ADD or ADHD. In fact, I might argue I have Motivation Deficit Disorder instead, seeing how my inability to wake up early and get my shit together vanished in regards to one specific 9:25AM course I sat in on. I hate morning courses, I hate waking up early, and I have missed class multiple times because of this and because of my general inability to go to sleep on time (because hey, there’s always another youtube video or another book or another article). And yet, miraculously, I only missed the last two classes of the course I was sitting in on (and which I was NOT SIGNED UP FOR, and so I DID NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT MY GRADES). Why? I wanted to go. I wanted to go so bad. I love the professor, he may well be one of the best professors I have ever had. I love the material. I love the ideas, I love the context, I love the way it was taught. That course was perfection.
And this goes both ways. A while ago I had one of the easiest courses I could possibly have taken, and I bombed it. It was the first psychology class where I got less than an A-, and I got a C+. It wasn’t a hard class, the material wasn’t difficult, the timing was fine. There was no reason in the world for me not to have aced that course. There was no reason, except that it was boring, I didn’t like it, and I could not find it in myself to enjoy the class. That semester I had four other courses, three of which had all of their notes online (such that I did not need to take notes). That psychology course was the only one that semester where the sum total of my notes was fewer than ten pages. It was hellish.
I think that illustrates the importance of internal motivation (and my failure to summon it up on demand) very well. One course, I should have by all means failed to attend after a few weeks because I was not even signed up for it, and another I should have aced effortlessly. Both of them provided opposite results. Still, my apparent Motivation Deficit Disorder not really what I wanted to talk about today. What I wanted to talk about was boredom. Boredom is my secret weapon.
-¿Y quién sois vos,- él preguntó
-para exigir fervor?-
Solo un gato de otro color
yo sé que es la verdad
de color de oro, o de color rojo
los leones tienen garras
las mías con filo, mi señor
como vuestras afiladas-
Y así habló, y así habló,
el señor de Castamir
y en su salón, lluvias lloran
y nadie ha de oír
sí, en su salón, lluvias lloran
sin almas para oír
I do art because of boredom, and I’m not really terrible at it either.
I learnt to program in Processing because of boredom. I took a post-secondary class in highs school because of boredom. Twice. One might say I even got into Neuroscience because of boredom. I got into a Medical Neuroanatomy course in Coursera when I was 17 because I was bored.
Boredom is a weapon.
I think a lot of people today have a strange relationship with boredom. They either flee it with progressively more immediacy-focused content which they consume with unconscious fury, or they kind of try to ignore it or endure it. I think both approaches are wrong. Boredom is a weapon. When you sit around and you don’t know what to do, you can just… learn what to do. You can do more things. You can get better at creating, and working, and learning, with boredom.