Humanity has always searched and strived to avoid discomfort, pain, sorrow, and boredom. However, we in the 21st century have perfected this avoidance. As soon as we are hungry, we eat, and never has it been more convenient. Boredom has become untenable in our culture. Boredom must be kept at bay by the power of our cell phone screens, televisions, and computers. Extended periods of silence are avoided by talk radio or music. If we encounter sorrow in our life, we have discovered and manufactured every possible escape. Some escape through drugs and alcohol, some with entertainment, and others use work.
We are always doing something, texting, talking, watching, driving, eating, drinking, and the list goes on. At this point, I should probably add I have nothing against any of the above; in fact, I have grown rather accustomed to eating. The problem that I have found in this culture of avoidance, of which I myself am very much a part, is that we are beginning to forget how to be. Be what, you ask? Not be what, but just be.
What would happen if for a few hours we stopped texting, eating, talking, watching, playing, and just stopped to be? In all honesty, I believe that we would be overwhelmed by boredom. If we were sad, we would be sad. If we were lonely, we would be lonely.
Many of you reading this are probably pretty sure that this is a horrible suggestion. Why would we not avoid boredom or sorrow if we could? My answer is simple, and few will heed it. With all of our avoiding, we have stopped living. If we lifted our eyes from the screen, we might see the faces of friends and family who give life true value, or we might behold a moment of beauty in creation that could have only God as its author. If we turned off the television and radio or removed our headphones, we might hear the birds and the wind, or the sounds of laughter, or the noises of an old house that has become a home. If we allow ourselves to be hungry for only a short time, our hearts might break when we realize how many people suffer in this way all the time. If, when we have lost someone we love, we choose not to distract ourselves or avoid feeling, we might learn to yearn with our whole being for the Resurrection from the dead and be filled with a hope deeper and richer than we could ever imagine.
Perhaps we find the idea of just being without doing terrifying. I have certainly felt this way at times. Let us remember that even in our darkest day, our deepest sorrow, our most agonizing boredom, and in Hades itself, He who made us and loves us is with us.
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