Recently, a friend who was running late texted me (of course, while sitting at our table in a fancy restaurant I had my phone on the table at my side.) She said she would be about 30 minutes later than our planned meeting time. No problem, I said. The host had been willing to seat me even though my companion hadn’t arrived and I had been confident I would be solo for just a few minutes.
But wait! Now I would be sitting here ALL BY MYSELF! For 30 minutes. AWKWARD.
My first impulse was to grab my phone and head directly to Instagram, Facebook, emails, texts, etc. hoping for some human interaction or at least some interesting new posts on IG or FB. But hold on. What if I leaned into that awkward feeling of “solo diner” and just spent the 30 minutes in a form of intentional boredom? I often scoff at people who cannot resist the urge to pick up their phone with even 10 seconds of downtime, never seeming to want to enjoy or interact with what is around them. What if I spend this time breathing, relaxing into the moment, noticing people around me, noticing wait staff efficiently taking orders and delivering meals? What if I use the few minutes alone to have a brief chat with the nice man filling (and refilling) my water glass? What if I take time to quiz the wait staff about the specials he was eager to describe? Or, maybe, just maybe, how about fully embracing boredom and doing some day dreaming? I did them all. I confess, I came close to picking up my phone, but I resisted the urge.
Since that evening, I have come to learn that boredom, daydreaming and putting down the frickin’ phone are all actions leading to greater creativity. I won’t say that I am completely cured of the attachment to my little rectangular friend in moments of boredom, but I am really starting to enjoy my mini-breaks sliding into that space of non-attachment and creativity inside my noggin. Who knew boredom could be so nice?