Sunday, 3 July 2011


"I'M BORED TO DEATH! Every morning, crawling to work through the traffic, I ask myself why I shouldn't take optional retirement," Joy said with a long, drawn-out sigh.

I glanced at Joy. There was certainly little joy on her face. But that's life in the city for you! The city - how it seduces the young from the kampongs, with its bright lights, its tinsel and glitter, its fool's gold!

There had to be a way to cheer Joy up, get her feeling positive.

"Joy, look at that young man in the red car; he's enjoying his music so much he's actually dancing in his seat!"

Joy cast a disapproving look at him, but I could feel her tension easing a little. All around us were routine scenes of joylessness and negativity. Mothers yelling at their kids, couples quarrelling heatedly in their cars, their flushed, irritated faces betraying the boredom and stress of their lives. Just another traffic jam.

Fortunately, I have learned the art of amusing myself even under the most trying conditions. Pedestrians on both sides of the road, or passing in front of my car, are a rich source of entertainment, literally a moving picture, produced and directed by Life.

Wow! Here's a highly fashionable Sweet Young Thing, short locks waving pertly in the breeze, wearing a blouse twice her size and a skirt so tight it could split right open at any moment, and she's wobbling along atop a pair of four-inch heels... whoops! Now right behind her is a very voluptuous damsel wearing an almost identical outfit, what a coincidence! Coming up next is a skinny young man in a huge hurry whose hairstyle is absolutely cat-and-mouse - the front sticks up like a cat's whiskers and the back is braided into a long, ratty tail! And look at his pants, and those oversized shoes - he must have escaped from a circus!

The trick is to filter out and totally ignore those who are conservatively dressed.

Waiting for people to show up after they've phoned to announce their intention to visit ("I'm coming over soon!") can easily lead to acute boredom and stress. What I do is to pick up last month's issue of Reader's Digest. Or sweep the dust off the top of my piano. Or mentally select my wardrobe for the forthcoming Church Annual Dinner or So-and-So's birthday banquet or the next YWCA Fundraising Dinner. You'd be surprised how much idle time stuff like that consumes. And when the visitor finally turns up, gushing apologies for taking an hour-and-a-half to arrive, you can be the perfect host and say you didn't mind one bit - and actually mean it!

There's really no excuse for anyone to say, "I'm bored to tears." Not even if you happen to be a housewife. If you're tired of trying out new recipes or working on your garden, there are always good books you haven't read, parts of your mind you haven't stimulated - and no end of letters to write. It's definitely better exercise than gossiping on the phone half the day!

All the different types of stressful boredom are compounded when you find yourself visiting a friend or relative in hospital, and you have to keep him or her company for hours, without actually being the usual definition of "company." Boredom added to anxiety and fatigue intensifies the stress. You can pray - though not for hours on end. And you can reminisce, mentally reviewing the happy moments you've shared with the loved one now knocking on death's door, so that the value of your friendship is experienced fully once again. This certainly helps to make you feel very glad to be there, despite the small discomforts and inconvenience. In fact, these quiet moments spent watching over a sick friend or relative can be infinitely rewarding - at least you can experience what it's like to be a guardian angel!

So never, never be bored. If you are, you can be sure that it's entirely of your own making. Boredom is often the sign of a negatively charged mind. Reverse the polarity, transmute the situation into something positive - and you'll find yourself a much more resourceful person than you ever thought.

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