s o l oct19 illustration

I have two kids and I hear the following phrase a lot: “I’m bored.” My response is almost always, “That’s great!” I’m not trying to be a jerk when I say that, I’m just a firm believer in the infinite powers of boredom. No great art or ideas would be possible without boredom, and, in this day and age, there’s a shocking lack of it in the world.

When I was younger, I was bored a lot. There was no social media or time-devouring smart-phone apps to occupy my time. As a result, I sat, thought and drew to pass the time. And I was happy. Now, out of habit, when I’m bored I find myself constantly picking up my phone, staring at an endless scroll of vacation photos, irrelevant ads and random life-bragging on social-media platforms. And more often than not, it produces no joy and generates no new ideas.

One recent morning, I was sitting at a coffee shop before starting my work for the day. I picked up my phone and then immediately put it down. No, I thought. I’m just going to sit here and be bored for awhile. I stared at a used-tire store across the street and noticed a guy loading tires onto a trailer. He would pick up a tire, raise it overhead, and then throw it down onto the edge of another tire laying on the ground. The tire would rocket forward, roll through the parking lot with stunning precision up onto the trailer’s ramp. His technique was masterful and it was a beautiful performance. I sat and watched him for about 15 minutes until his job was done and my coffee cup was empty. And I was happy.

This is not a new sentiment by any means, but the next time you’re bored I urge you to sit and relish the feeling versus looking for a digital solution. You might find some unexpected beauty in the world or simply have some time to use your imagination. Don’t worry, those photos will be waiting for you.

P.S. If you choose to ignore my words, check out my vacation on Instagram: @sieben_up ;)

text by Michael Sieben, previously seen in the Fall 2019 print edition