The Fun of Boredom

On Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles there is a movie theatre called The Landmark. I used to go there a lot before the pandemic. The multiplex showed art house films along with mainstream fare and Oscar bait.

The Landmark used to be attached to a mall by a pedestrian bridge, but the mall was closed and is now being converted into tech company offices. There also used to be a giant Barnes and Noble book store right next to the movie theatre, but that moved out and was replaced by a high end furniture store which closed pre-pandemic.

I liked going to the Landmark. Their ticket prices were cheaper than the Arclight. The seats were comfortable. Everyone who worked there was super friendly. I could get a cup of hot tea and a hot dog at the concession stand. If I was early, I could hang out in their bar which had some comfortable lounge couches.

I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the Landmark. Sometimes, I would be super excited about seeing a new film. Sometimes, I didn’t care what I saw. I just wanted to see a movie in a dark theatre filled with strangers. I prefer going to movies by myself. I’ve been let down too many times by close friends who like to comment on the movie while it is playing. I don’t mind laughter or gasps or the occasional HOLY SMOKE! Please, I don’t want to hear an actor’s resume while the movie is playing.

The Landmark like other movie theatres is currently closed due to the pandemic. Even though I have access to tons of movies and TV shows to watch at home, it’s just not the same as going to a movie in the theatre. The tea tastes different. The floor isn’t sticky. I hope the Landmark makes it through this okay.

Since the pandemic started, many worse things than a movie theatre closing have happened to me and to others. If you have experienced a loss of any kind, I am deeply sorry. As for me, I am still mentally and emotionally sorting through my own loss, but I get up every morning and stand on my feet. I make a cup of tea. I keep going. I have realized that loss and grief will take time. Fortunately, now, I have a lot of time.

I’ve also been thinking about boredom. During this current pandemic, I’ve had a few moments of boredom. Okay, I’m bored, I thought. Then I chuckled. Instead of feeling bad about my boredom. I’m actually feeling okay about it. While it’s nice to have few distractions, I don’t want distraction all the time. I just want to enjoy whatever the current moment brings. Sure it’s kind of boring, but that’s the fun and challenge of it.

When did it become not okay to be bored? I remember boring car rides as a kid (they were really boring, we were in the Midwest of the United States). My brothers and I learned to deal with it and not fight all the time. I learned to just sit and look out the window at the dirty snow on the ground. It was what it was. I started to imagine things. I pictured a world without snow. I wondered if I could go somewhere without snow. I started to dream.

In the car, we didn’t have the distraction of DVDs and video. DVDs hadn’t been invented yet, and a VHS tape machine was too clunky for car rides. I couldn’t read books because I got car sick. I did have a Walkman permanently attached to my ears, so my views of snow had an 80s pop soundtrack.

I first realized that boredom was okay when I walked across Spain. The Camino does not pass through beautiful epiphany-filled landscape all the time. Some miles are little boring. Since there was no instant gratification except the occasional café con leche, I developed a patience that wasn’t just virtuous. It was enjoyable. All these years later, I still remember some of the boring bits. They were part of the experience too.   

I’ve also done some distance sailing. It might sound glamorous—sailing off into the sunset. However, sailing takes time, and there are a lot of days when you are just looking at water. At first it might seem boring, but then I noticed that the water is constantly changing. Sometimes I spotted a sea turtle or a pod of dolphins. Still, water every day can be a bit maddening, but the mind slows down. It becomes pleasant. We’ll get to where we’re going eventually.

So it’s okay to be bored. I think my mind needs some of the down time anyway. Too much distraction becomes background noise and boring too. So I enjoy the boredom. It’s fun.  

Finally, it amuses me that I write about the noise of distraction, but it turns out that I’ve just written a distraction. Bon Appetit!