02023-05-18 | Language | 10 comments

I thought about boredom and boring. I think I know how the author of the article I linked to in this post meant the word, and how I also used it, but realize that it may not be the normal usage of the word. Like myself he is a musician, a photographer, and a walker and, I am guessing, that he is used to practicing things. I looked the word BOREDOM up in several dictionaries and found this:

the state of being bored; the feeling of being wearied by dullness, or sameness, or tedious repetition, feeling impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity

To tell you the truth I don’t remember ever being bored in my life. I have been a musician and a meditator for fifty years. We do the same things over and over. It’s called practicing. Tedious repetition does not phase me at all. I have a very good tremolo because I used to spend hours every day practicing it. For years! I’d work on the tremolo at all hours of the day. I’d also do it while reading a book, or watching TV, but mostly it was just me and the guitar. I don’t get impatient when I am unoccupied. I don’t lack interest in any current activity. You want onions finely chopped? I can help because I don’t mind doing it. You need twenty onions chopped? (rolls up sleeves)

That said, I understood boring, as used in that post, to mean time that hasn’t been filled with diversions. To allow oneself not to do anything. One does not pick up a book, endlessly scroll on a screen, or watch TV. Unfilled time. A pause. A pause that is allowed to become a pregnant pause and then, at some point, that pause can birth a new idea. 

When I was raising a child, I told him that I didn’t mind him swearing but the one thing I never wanted to hear was I am bored. 

I remember one time at the Canadian border. In the 90’s, I think. Huge tour, two buses and a 18-wheeler. I said something to an officer that he didn’t like and he put me in a cell–I suppose that’s what it was… four empty walls, no windows, no furniture of any kind–while he interrogated other members of my traveling party. I discovered the acoustics in the room and enjoyed working on my palmas tones. I may even have tried singing, although I am not good at it. After twenty minutes he released me. He almost smiled and said that I was having too much fun in the room. 

Origin of BORE
First recorded in 1760-70, of uncertain origin

Origin of DOM
short for Latin dominus lord, master

Very strange word this, boredom. The literal meaning should be master of drilling? Getting drilled by the repetition? Repetition is power. Repetition is how movements become easy, begin to flow. 

Actually, the more I think about boredom the less I understand it. 


  1. JaneParham

    I know the value of repetition, It usually accomplishes or creates something. I love it.

    But boredom to me is not an absence of diversions. Sitting alone thinking is juicy, I never run out of topics to thnk about. Or just listening to silence can be very exciting.

    Boredom is being with someone talking and talking without expressing a fresh idea, and who doesn’t notice you want to respond or that you were in the middle of concentrating on something else; or sitting in a long performance that is truly awful. At least, in a performance you can get up and leave. :-)

    Not boring: You got arrested! HaHa.

    • ottmar

      Ha! You obviously do not know me. If someone does that to me I either do get up and leave, or I withdraw to an internal place and pay as little attention as possible. I don’t let someone take my time like that. Time is to precious for that.

      • JaneParham

        Hey! There’s a lot to knowing you. I’ve only just begun! I can tell you I was not surprised to hear that you will not allow anyone to waste your time. Good example for me.

  2. Steve

    > I have been a musician and a meditator …

    The entire paragraph following the above is spot on … I have to say … you nailed it.

        • ottmar

          Thanks for that link. We know that a huge part of hearing is the processing. The ears provide the data but the brain has to decode it. There is, for example, the background-foreground processing that one has to do when playing with a band or when mixing an album in the studio. It would seem logical that this would enable musicians to understand speech at advanced age even when the ears are no longer as good.
          Older folks also tend to use more of their brain area to make up for slower synapses. That would suggest that as long as one keeps training and practicing this processing ability, one can make up for the inevitable loss of one’s hearing. At least for a time.

  3. anne

    You have had mind training and practice (I understand the basics about zen philosophy and meditation ).

    As a result, ok with mindless/boring stuff to do, at least, in the short term.

    but…many people do not have the same level of awareness as you do. Many stand chopping onions or worse things for endless hours, that stretch into years. Plus other issues – life can become overwhelming dull, so much so, .. brain chemistry changes or neuro activity changes. Next thing, an md is prescribing an antidepressant drug (lots of $$$ in this market !!) . IMO – the next step should be a therapist of mindfulness expert not a drug.

    re your remark…
    “Repetition is power” Repetition can make you very good at something for sure… can achieve excellence.

    • anne

      “A pause. A pause that is allowed to become a pregnant pause and then, at some point, that pause can birth a new idea. ”

      Look forward to it…


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