...Of all the verboten terms that could earn me a reproachful gaze or a stern word growing up, this one was by far the worst. On those rare occasions when I was brave enough to utter the vile phrase, my mother would descend upon me with a monologue of admonishment. I would instantly regret my decision, and walk away defeated. It was the ultimate sin, and I knew better.
That's right, in the Varrati household, if you were dumb enough to say that you were "bored," you got what you deserved.
This condemnation of boredom is something I have grown to appreciate as an adult, and is a lesson for which I am infinitely grateful. Just as I am sure it bothered my mom to hear me say it, few phrases set my teeth on edge more than when a friend complains, "I'm bored."
Simply put, if you're bored... It's your fault.
Life is a unique and fickle mistress, moving fast and without regard for whether or not you're keeping up. If you're sitting around waiting for something to happen, I hate to break it to you: You're going to be waiting awhile. Not all of us are writers, but when it comes to our own lives, we each need to be the authors of our own story.
For me, this authorship has manifested itself in a willingness to say "yes." Often, when opportunities arise that push me beyond my comfort zone, I step back and consider whether it is something that I will always wonder about if I let it pass. I'm not big on regrets, so if that's the case, I usually close my eyes and leap.
My desire to experience things has led me to some amazing adventures. I've made movies and toured the country with a drag queen. I even got to co-headline my own show at the Broadway Comedy Club in New York, where Tracy Morgan and Tim Allen have also held court. I'm not telling you these things to brag, but because each one of them began with a moment of uncertainty wherein I had to be willing to put myself on the line and potentially fail. Yet, I knew that even if I did, each experience would add more to my story than simply staying at home on the couch.
I also don't believe that the defeat of boredom always has to result in a grand gesture. When I first moved to the city, I made a conscious decision not to be a homebody. If I'm living here, I want to see and experience everything. Naturally, this financially isn't always a reality, but money doesn't solve boredom... spirit does. Exploring a local park or a stroll through an urban area taking photographs is virtually costless, and can inspire in ways an expensive afternoon never could.
When I'm not traveling for work, I'm out exploring my city constantly. I've been living here for almost six years, and I find new things weekly that I never even expected were in my own backyard. There's also the process of rediscovery, such as when a friend came to visit a few weekends ago. By showing off the city to someone new, I discovered that things I'd begun to take for granted are still amazing, exciting, and romantic.
Ultimately, the point of this all is that life doesn't wait for us. If things feel stagnant or inactive, it's because we've contributed to that mode of existence. I'm not saying that there aren't bad days or sad times, but we also have the ability to minimize those moments by choosing to live.
While I'm not the most spiritual person on the planet, if ever I offered a moment of zen, it'd be this: Don't be bored.
So, the next time you open your mouth to utter the "b-word," stop and think about what you can do to change things. No one's going to entertain you if you're not first willing to entertain yourself.
Remember, your life is your story...
...And you're the one holding the pen.
For more by Michael Varrati, click here.
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