Friday, May 6, 2011

The value of tedium

Scoop, scrape. Scoop, scrape. I baked cookies yesterday. My least favourite part of baking cookies is getting them onto the cookie sheet. It's a boring, repetitive job. Tedium, in other words. But yesterday I was feeling stressed, and actually appreciated the tedium as a time to think about things.

These days, we do everything we can to avoid anything tedious. We involve ourselves in as much activity as we are able in order to avoid having boring and repetitive lives. In the process, we run from one thing to another without a moment in between to think. And of course, when an activity we've signed up for becomes tedious, we find excuses to avoid it, we turn on music or TV to distract ourselves from it, or we drop it and sign up for something else rather than welcoming the opportunity to just relax into a moment that doesn't require intense concentration, nervous energy, hurry or worry.

I'm starting to believe that tedium is underrated. We've invented so many ways to banish tedium from our lives that we've lost touch with our abilities to daydream as we do the dishes, sing as we scrub the floor, wool gather as we weed the garden. All tedious jobs, but also opportunities to let our minds go so that we can sort out our lives and find a few moments of peace. I've noticed that when I avoid tedious jobs, my creativity tends to decrease and my stress levels rise. Just an observation.

Today, find and welcome a little tedium space where thought, imagination and creativity can run free. Me? I'm going to dig grass out of the garden, and think many meandering thoughts.

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