Who says boredom is a bad thing?

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It's not enough for cellphones to be an electronic leash, now there is a plethora of "content" you can get for them. A young man on NPR was relating how, instead of having to read old magazines in the doctor's office, he can play a game. Now, he said, you don't have to get bored.

This is, of course, a huge loss.

When my daughter whined about being bored, I told her it was a wonderful thing. "Just think," I said in a conspiratorial whisper, "of all the wonderful things that happen when you're bored...."

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"Like what?" she asked, taken aback.

"You'll see...."

I live most of my own life rushing here, running there. When a chance comes to be by myself, I am uncomfortable at first. I look for something, anything, to read: labels, signs, fine print. But as time stretches out beyond the available distractions, I learn things.

Small things connect in my mind. Long-gone ideas resurface, surprised at the silence. They scurry about in the quiet, leaving new thoughts in their wake. Fragments of songs come. Ideas for stories. Visions of solutions appear where none was a few minutes before.

Boredom is a gift, really. Like a seedling suddenly free of the shadow of an ancient oak, boredom becomes the open sky that lets our inner selves stretch and reach beyond our mental shadows. We rarely let ourselves get past the initial anxiety of having nothing to do, nothing to do but think.

I think that when a generation grows up with no opportunity to be bored, it is being robbed of the gifts that arise only when we turn that corner of boredom and run into ourselves.

All we can wish for, I suppose, is spotty cell coverage.

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