It’s been a long day. I was awake from about 5.30am after my little one stirred with some early dreams. He seems to be sleeping with us quite a bit these days. I do wonder how a child of two can have a disturbed night’s sleep and dreams that make him cry out loud. What an earth has he got to worry about?
Anyway, I got to work early as I had a stack of stuff to do, and after one meeting and another, the day was over pretty quickly. A quick wine with some work colleagues for a leaving do, and then home to a freshly bathed boy, ready for his bed-time stories…All good really, but as I ate my tasty-home-made dinner – gotta love that man of mine – I pondered what I would be writing about tonight. I’ve made a commitment to write weekly and this evening I just couldn’t seem to find a subject or area I wanted to talk about. So, I took out the Penguin Pocket English Thesaurus and I have picked a word randomly by flicking open the book to a page and blindly pointing at something. The word for tonight friends is: boredom. On the same page are the words beauty and ugliness. How funny, I could have landed on those words too…But I didn’t and so I’m left with looking at this word boredom. What does it mean? Associated words include: tedium, monotony, sameness, banality, heaviness, chore, grind, colourlessness…
Thank you word. You have reminded me of something I was experiencing not long ago. But I don’t think I saw it as boredom at the time. I think what was happening to me was that the fog of new motherhood was beginning to clear after almost two years and as I emerged from this single-minded focus, I felt ill at ease, heavy – low even. In fact there was indeed a kind of colourlessness in my world. Not literally, but in my head or more precisely maybe my inner-self. A few weeks into this colourless kind of stupor, I was at a gathering of coaches, and we were asked to do an exercise called Ten Lives. The idea is that you have just a few minutes to write down 10 ‘other lives’ you could have. Anything from a cartoon character, to an actor, or an animal…but the idea is not to linger too long on the list – just get all those random ‘lives’ down on paper. Have a go! It’s a great exercise and rather revealing. Here’s my list from that day:
Writer of great booksInterior designerArchitect
Leader of a good collaborative coaching practice
Altruist/philanthropist with oodles of money to help the causes I love
Mother to many children, not just one
What struck me most about the list is how many creative ‘lives’ I could have. And the next thought that came to me was that in my present life, at this time, I was not fulfilling that creativity. Although my life was so rich, on so many levels – a lovely child, a great husband, a roof over my head, work, friends and so on – the fact was that for the last few years, I simply have not been activating those creative juices. And although at the time I wouldn’t have said I was bored, especially because I am always busy, I can see now that perhaps what I was feeling was indeed a sort of boredom. Life was about routines and yes, perhaps rather banal.
Prior to having a child, I was so fortunate to divide my time between the UK and Costa Rica. I was crafting our hand-built home with mosaics and murals; I painted glass; I did beadwork; I wrote poems; I wrote lyrics; I DJ’d and put on fun events…so really, it’s hardly surprising that now I could feel the absence of those creative pursuits. I know I can be creative in my mothering, or in the kitchen or even in my coaching but there is something indulgent, something deeply fulfilling about creating for the sheer pleasure of it. The Ten Lives exercise made that clear to me, and funnily enough, one of the creative endeavours I committed to out of that day was to begin a blog.
So, dear boredom, I thank you. I avoid you like the plague but when I feel you, when I allow you to surround me and be very present, then I am encouraged to look about me and colour in what is colourless. I might be kick-starting the process with ‘painting by numbers’ in my creative efforts but I’m pretty sure before long, I’ll be developing my own masterpieces with a little effort and attention.