I knew the writing and research portion of the assignment would be no problem, but I have always had trouble with designing things to be attractive. I am not at all good at drawing. Still, I knew I had to think of something. My theme was enchantment, and I loved working on the poems. In no time at all they were written and ready. I then began working on the actual book, and it was easier than I thought. With pastel coloured paper, ribbons, sparkles, cardboard, and a silver calligraphy pen, I soon had something I was actually proud of. It had taken no time at all it seemed, and never once had I wanted to stop and do something else, because it was so interesting to figure out the ways to do something creatively rather than what was only required.
The day I handed it in I was fully aware at the difference between mine and most of my classmates. Many displayed the staple design of an average student: clear booklet with coloured computer printouts. Without realising it, I had created something extraordinary compared with what I usually would have done, all because I had expanded my normal way of doing things. I had been in a state of flow by taking something I had to do, and doing it with everything I had. The rest of the year I continued to over-reach what I would normally grab at, because only then was I able to fully enjoy my work. When left to my own devices, I was no longer bored.
If asked, I would say that boredom is one of the greatest afflictions in today’s world. It drives teens to depression, adults to stress, families to collapse. If we were not bored it would mean we were constantly active in one way or another, and it may mean that many of the problems our world faces would disappear because we would have no choice but to work at them until they did. But ask any teenager in school, ask any child doing chores, ask any adult doing a mindless job, and nine times out of ten they’ll tell you they are bored. It’s everywhere, and it seems we can’t escape it. But there is a solution to be discovered and it exists within us all; flow.
Life is never boring if you stop looking only at what is in front of you and realise how much bigger and more exciting everything is. We have disillusioned ourselves into believing that certain things are boring no matter what. Take riding on the subway, for instance. You take the same route everyday, walk to the same spot, get off at the same stop, open the same doors. Eventually you aren’t thinking about where you are or what you’re doing, you’re wondering what’s for dinner or what you’ll do when you get wherever you are going. There’s nothing else to do, so why not right? Wrong.
Taking two minutes to look around, you may begin to notice the people you’re with. Maybe you’ll see someone you recognise, maybe you’ll notice someone’s smile, or unhappy expression. Maybe looking at other people will teach you something about yourself. Or maybe you begin to wonder at the technology that races you to work everyday, the history, and the stories. Maybe you’ll begin to fathom the events that have taken place on this train, the people that have been in the same car, the same seat. Maybe you’ll start to wonder at the hundreds of individual lives of the people around you. And who knows, maybe all that will give you a reason to take up a little philosophy. Maybe it’s in the everyday tasks that the secret of your existence lies.
Like everything in life, boredom affects teens greatly. It disables them from finding flow – if teens don’t find flowduring adolescence it decreases the chances of them finding it as adults, and therefore creates a generation of workers who are unsatisfied, uninterested and therefore not producing their best work. Most of my unsatisfied and unquestioning classmates reacted to the same poetry assignment I had with disinterest. Instead of seeing the potential to use their abilities, they saw the boredom of another assignment. Going forward in life with this kind of attitude is exactly what allows our planet to sit in discontent. Nothing is changing if no one is looking for a change.
‘But so what?’ you ask. Why should I personally, care about finding flow? Well let me ask you this: do you care about living a full life? To put it in the words of W.H. Auden;
“If we really want to live, we’d better start at once to try;
If we don’t, it doesn’t matter, but we’d better start to die.”
Auden speaks of life, not as a biological state of breathing along with a heartbeat, but as an act of doing. It is this kind of living that makes words such as ‘worthwhile’ and ‘significant’ mean something. If we are not trying to live through life, we might as well start dying, since it is the inevitable consequence of life. Life and death should not be thought of as opposites, but rather, as two components that could not exist without the other. We are born to die, or we are born to live. The choice, is up to you.