Advice from Creatives on How to Live Life

I love reading new thoughts, especially if they pertain to the creative arts.  My favorite websites are those that cause me to think about books–and ideas in books–in deeper ways, and, by extension, to think about life.

That’s probably why I rarely finish reading Maria Popova’s famed Brain Pickings without having received some serious inspiration.  Popova’s a literary ideas curator, you might say, and while that sounds highfalutin, it really isn’t.  It just means she combs the Internet for important things so I don’t have to.  Mmmm, yes, please.

In celebration of nine years of Brain Pickings (a very long time, indeed, in Internet Land), she offers 9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings.  Several pieces of advice in this short read are spot on.  A couple of them I need to take to heart right this minute.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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Why It’s Good To Be Bored

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We finished up our math curriculum for this year, and our co-op ended for the season.   We’re still here, though, and it isn’t summer.  It’s no surprise that the kids (and I) are feeling a little–do I say it?–bored.

The weather is mostly beautiful so we go outside a lot, several times a day, at least.  And we’re still reading together in the morning, a Psalm, a few Wendell Berry poems, a chapter of a novel (Les Miserables, the story that never, ever ends).

We’re still making it to jujitsu a couple of days a week.

But the only writing the kids are doing is in their journals, and here I’m going to admit something:  I don’t check that writing.  My excuse to myself is that it’s private, and I shouldn’t.  I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that at least one of my kids is doing nothing but cartooning in his.  Well, cartooning and writing one word over and over to fill up space.

So, to sum up:  we aren’t doing math at the moment, we’re shamming with writing, and our co-op classes aren’t meeting so we’ve lost steam in memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution. (Yeah. We did that. It was kind of like this.)

And now we’re bluh.

Every last one of us.

What I’m going to say, though, is that I think it’s good.  I think it’s good to be bored for a little while, as a palate cleanse, as a way to sort through old thoughts and usher in new ones.  And, yes, boredom feels a little stretchy, like a Pilates burn up the backs of our legs.  But it eventually settles our brains and allows them to do something wonderful–to deal with things we’ve shoved into our dusty mental attics.

Boredom brings up things we need to face.

So, at least in the short term, I’m OK with my kids dinging around, picking weeds out of the backyard, mixing them with water from the hose, and crushing them into “potions.”  It’s good to have nothing to do but to look for perfect sticks and leftover mouse bones.

Because that’s when a different kind of work begins.