• Nadya Booyse

Isn’t history ultimately the result of our fear of boredom? - Emile M. Cioran

When was the last time you were bored?

Getting to the point of this pit-stop rather quickly: boredom breeds creativity, it inspires, and it ads meaning to things we previously didn't even think about. But we don't really think that highly of being bored, and in our current world order, we don't have to be, and there is a whole generation who has never been.

In the middle of this pandemic that we find ourselves in, the gift I gave myself was to start transferring some of my stories and poems to an easier-to-edit digital format. I have been writing stories and poetry since I was 16, but I am acutely and painfully aware that in the last 10 years or so, I have penned very little and only through great pain and effort.

As I was transferring stacks and stacks of notebooks and paper, I was amazed at how much I had to say when I started and how wonderfully I was able to say it. A bunch of it is just YA angst and heartaches, but I spun yarns and folded words in ways and with skill that I had forgotten I had. Although amazed at the potential I had penned, I was also deeply troubled at what had been lost. So I started researching and reading what creative people were doing to keep their youthful inspiration flowing.

The information is vast and no two souls do things 100% the same so I honestly did not come up with any concrete answer, although I did follow a couple of suggestions that seemed to apply to my life.

I wondered whether inspiration and creativity were perhaps the gifts of youth and the angst that comes with it, and whether, if it is not cultivated throughout, it got lost. Forever? But there were also enough people that started writing in their middle age to prove that wrong.

And then, as almost everyone knows, I quit social media. And since I had no games on my phone, I no longer had instant distraction at my fingertips.

Oh my soul! was I bored! Yes, I realise it hasn't even been a month, but there were days when I thought I would die while waiting, in line, on my kids, for the kettle to boil... some kinds of activities and waiting are beyond the remedy of a good book, and I found myself being at the mercy of my boredom more often than I knew I used my phone as a distraction from it.

But then I started noticing a change in both my behaviour and my thinking:

Instead of trying to snapshot life and thinking about adding it to my internet personality, I was avoiding the pictures and describing events in words, wondering how and which stories they would fit into;

Instead of picking up my phone, I was staring out of the window, sometimes just letting my mind wonder, and at other times finding the words to connect to what I was seeing;

I wake up with words bubbling over and find myself not being able to write fast enough to pen them all to paper;

Stories that need to be told are finding me, sometimes asking to be extrapolated and made flesh, and other times just to be considered.

I no longer wonder where my creativity went, for I cannot write fast enough to contain everything that is rising within me. They may be very mediocre, but it doesn't matter. Creativity doesn't ask us to be great, it simply asks us to grab hold of the force that wants to be made manifest within this world, the stories we need to share, the visions we need to capture, the things we need to claim and proclaim about our who we are and how we show up in the world. It asks us to take action. Or perhaps the void of boredom sucks it all into existence. Apparently, the universe doesn't like a vacuum...

This past week, I took my kids technology away. We have always had fairly strict time limits on screen time, but after seeing the effect on myself, I became fairly annoyed with their insistence on being entertained and reluctance to feel into the void. We have had periods of disconnection in the past before, but this time I was taking notes:

Every time we have had a disconnect, the period of whining and having nothing to do has shortened and they have become more comfortable to be by themselves.

There isn't an entity on earth that will tap into their creative pool faster than a kid who has nothing to do.

Which begs the question: what damage are we doing to our own evolution, when we are bringing up a whole generation who won't ever experience the gift that is boredom?

For the sake of clarity though, not everyone's distraction lies in social media or games or the internet, but for the bulk of us, it lies somewhere on those little devices that we get to take everywhere with us, and which prohibits our mind from working through the mundane into the void that leads to inspiration.

Which made me look into the effect of boredom on our minds. Turns out, boredom has a very measurable effect on our brains (of course someone has studied this and of course we have found a name for it). Yes, I googled this to confirm that I wasn't just making things up (google 'Bored Brain' or 'Default Mode Network' to understand the science behind this).

In my one journal I once penned the words: CREATIVITY IS AN AMPLIFIED LIFE. Creativity and inspiration are not necessarily art, or perhaps all of life is art but let's leave that discussion for today; Creativity is simply a life that makes use of the creative force that exists within each of us, and it would seem that when we kill off boredom, we may be killing the seed that births it.

If we acknowledge this, what does it ask us to change in the way we do things?

And if we resist either the acknowledgement or the change, are we trying to find out why?

  • Nadya Booyse

People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take. ― Emma Goldman

All humans want to matter. We want to believe that, even in being so infinitely small in this great big universe where any one of us is so easily lost, that we are important enough to be seen, to be counted, and to be looked for. We want to know that who we are, what we do, what we have to say, our lives, and our deaths, have reason and purpose. We don't want to be just another number, and we definitely don't want to feel as if we are expendable to some other human who feels that they have some manner of power.

There are many people to whom the larger number of souls are expendable. Throughout history, we have challenged those. Whenever the general population felt that the powers that be - whether church, rulers, governments, or policemen - were acting in ways that disregarded the fact that they (the people) were alive too, the people would rise up and revolt. But what happens when you give people a global presence, popularity that can be tracked, a voice that echos eternally in the ether, a platform which allows their lives to be seen and makes them feel like they matter more than they normally would, and once they are thoroughly integrated into this 'service' you provided, you have them sign a legal regulation that basically states that you own their shit and will do with it whatever you want and they may not hold you accountable for anything that happens after? What happens when people have to face the conundrum of either revolting against this and losing the space where they showcased their lives, or continue using the 'service' and having no say over how they are used? How many ways will people validate and justify the abuse that is taking place simply because they love being seen?

To be clear, I don't have an answer, and this is also not entirely the thought pattern that I had before I left social media. This is today's journal entry. I had to leave the platforms (which I loved once) in order to see how weird my thinking had actually become. I am reminded of how I wanted to quit smoking (also a decade long habit) and one of the reasons that I wouldn't was because I had such an awesome lighter; I had to quit in order to understand how bizarre that thought was!

I have been on the Book and the Gram since their inception, and I have loved them both for different reasons. Both these platforms were invaluable during a time when every choice I made was at odds with nearly everyone around me; these spaces gave me support, connected me to people who were making the same choices, and provided knowledge and advice to understand and learn more about the things I chose.

I met some amazing people! I also met some amazing people pre-social media, and people in-between who had little to no social media presence. I have experienced both platforms for well over a decade; I am neither disregarding their value, nor abolishing them without knowing them, the flaws they came with or the weaknesses they exacerbate. To some degree social media has helped me to stay in touch with people all over the globe, but after I sent out an email to explain my reasons for leaving these platforms, it dawned on me that it has also made me lazy: with me posting my life and seeing other people's lives on social media, we had less motivation to actually get together and have the coffee we always promise we would. We were staying in touch after all, weren't we? On the other hand, the people I really loved and were intricately connected to, hardly ever looked at my social media pages. They also didn't know every detail about my life, but they checked in with the most important bits:

how are you?

what's happening?

how are the kids?

can I help?

I need help...

and always, let's do coffee!

To make another thing clear: I am not anti-tech or anti-internet, and I have never been under any delusion that anything that we put on the internet has not been available for those that wanted it (ok, two points). The problem that I saw was that up until now anyone that wanted the information had to break through or down walls into order to get to it. And even if they were given or sold it, should any harm have come to myself, my reputation, or my business because of it, someone could have been held accountable in a legal manner. The chances are next to nothing that I or what I have or do am of enough importance to anyone out there, but at its very foundation the reason for my exodus was the blatant disregard for accountability or ethics: I matter enough to myself not have someone else use me (whether my data, my photos, or things taken that I cannot see) in ways that I do not agree to, especially if there is not going to be any accountability; I matter enough to not have someone else disregard my rights to myself, even if the potential of their abuse is very minute.

There are no easy or absolute answers, but for me it was at least clear what I needed to do. I honoured my boundary without judgement of those who choose differently, and with absolutely no desire to enter into an argument or to try and convince anyone to do the same. I am talking to a lot of people though, and I think that these discussions are both due and important.

The changes to my life, my time, and my way of thinking have been sudden. I no longer see the world through a lens or with the subconscious idea of posting every major event/thought in my life. It took me a couple of days to stop thinking in terms of what I need to capture in order to send it out into the ether, but getting there was much quicker than I anticipated. Turns out I have actually been yearning for this unexpected freedom for a while now.

When I do take photos, they are few and they clearly mark a memory I want to retain. Mostly I am just experiencing moments as they pass without the need to hold on to them.And isn't this what life is actually about? Moments. Forgetting. Remembering. Basking in the live you live(d) and the people around you.

Sometimes a well lived life with those you love is all the importance you need.

  • Nadya Booyse

The age we live in is not ours to decide. Our decision is only how to use the few fleeting moments the Universe has given us. - Paris by Starlight, Robert Dinsdale

This physical manifestation, this body and mind that you inhabit at the moment, is really just about being alive and living your life. Anything else you add to it. You get to decide what this means for you, what has meaning for you, and how you want to spend the time allocated to you, while also being aware that you have no concept of how much time you have, whether it is pre-designated, or whether it is assigned as you go.

The ripples of your life will always be more than you can see, and deeper than you can know, whether you are a super famous movie star, or an unknown person living an average life. And you decide all of; all the extra little bits and values you want to add to it. Or not. It doesn't need to look like anyone else's definition of anything, and you aren't allowed to say someone else's is less than yours because you decided different things.

Maybe being a present parent feels like all the life you want.

Maybe you want to be a corporate high-flyer and rise all the way to the top.

Maybe being surrounded by nature is your happy place.

Maybe you feel comfort in the beauty of the high rises and bustle of the city.

Maybe you want to work with people, learning to recognise when you need quiet.

Maybe you're good at flying solo, learning to recognise when you need companionship.

Maybe avoiding everything is where you're at and you don't want to learn shit.

You get to decide whether you want to numb out or face your shit.

And maybe your scars are too big to face right now.

Healing for you may be about learning to set boundaries, or understanding what real nurture is.

Healing for you may require a deep dive, hard work, and a willingness to deal with intense discomfort.

Or healing may just be finding compassion for yourself, learning about softness, and moving past survival.

And when people look from the outside, will they see all that has affected you and why things look the way they do?

There is a tiny part that comes with everyone's software, which is a desire to grow and having the freedom to do so. Whether or not you listen to it, or what that looks like for you, is totally up to you.

No one will understand your journey, exactly what you've been through, what processing skills you were born with or taught, or what you are dealing with right now on top of what has gone before, so no one gets to judge your steps or what your journey looks like. Although they will.

Each of us gets to decide whether any other person or the things they throw at us gets to be a part of our journey. Sometimes this looks a little like judgement, but the difference between judgement and discernment, lies in our aggressiveness and compassion towards that which is not for us.

There will be those that will be willing to sit, to listen, and bring with them compassion enough to understand at least part of what is yours. There will be those that won't.

Only you define what or who has meaning in your life.