a g e n d a
by David S. Blanchard
Did you know that July is National Hot Dog Month? It is. It is also National Eye Exam Month, Minority Tourism Month, Hitchhiking Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Ice Cream Month, National July Belongs to Blueberries Month, National Lamb and Wool Month, National Peach Month, National Picnic Month, National Purposeful Parenting Month, National Recreation and Parks Month, National Tennis Month, Sports and Recreation Books Month, and it is also National Anti-Boredom Month. There seems to be something for everyone. I figure I'll do my part in celebrating about half of these commemorations before the month is out. A picnic with a well-stacked cooler would take care of many, and if you hitchhiked to the park in a wool sweater and brought a book about sports and an optometrist along you'd be well on your way to a thorough celebration of July. The only festival I plan to omit from my July is the last one mentioned: National Anti-Boredom Month. I think July is a wonderful time to be bored.
In spite of what they hold as true at The Boring Institute of Maplewood, New Jersey, summertime is the ideal season for boredom. Some people call it vacation. I think being bored is an undervalued state of mind. Obviously, it's not a place one wants to stay all the time, but only when you're bored do you let yourself fully pay attention. When you're a kid that's when you lie on the ground and watch the industry of ants, or look for shapes in the clouds, or find four leaf clovers, or make up a game with whoever's hanging around. Later on in life, it's when, well, it's when you do the same sort of stuff. But while you're watching the ants or scouring the skies, you're also imagining all kinds of other things, making connections, sorting out your life, sensing the patterns that give your life its shape. That doesn't happen when you're in a hurry. It doesn't happen when every day has a full agenda. Those things rarely happen when you want to make them happen.
Boredom is one of those gifts life gives us that we often think we'd just as soon do without, and it would surely be a curse if it was unrelieved. But for most of us, it's a temporary state of grace that we visit from time to time, temporarily without our bearings, when we discover all the ways we human creatures are made for wonder.
As summer arrives, I anticipate a good boring July. This is our opportunity for authentic boredom. After all, everyone knows August is National Canning Month, so you know we'll be busy then.
The Rev. David S. Blanchard is minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse, New York. This essay appears in A Temporary State of Grace, a meditation manual published by Skinner House Books, available from the UUA Bookstore, 1-800-215-9076.