My son John (age 17) often tells me that one of his teachers, classes, or activities is boring. Sometimes he just smiles and says, “I’m bored.” Hence, I read with special interest the late Susan Sonntag’s suggestion that pain and boredom are the twin evils of modern life. (See As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, a collection of Sonntag’s journal and notebook writings.)
Sonntag of course acknowledged variations, but she thought pain was concentrated among the poor while boredom tended to plague the middle and upper classes. Law students, law professors, lawyers, and judges surely count among the haves rather than the have-nots.
Nothing is inherently boring, and boredom is personal and subjective. It derives, Sonntag thought, largely from a loss of attention. When we cannot pay attention, we become bored.
If you think a class, a client, or a work task is boring, try changing your frame of attention or perhaps combining two or three frames of attention. Try to think differently about whatever it is you’re thinking about. It might relieve the boredom, but, then again, maybe this advice is boring.
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