Had some really interesting conversations after the Supreme Court event in the Clinton school auditorium Thursday this past week. It brought to mind some extended issues.
A couple of the young people I spoke with commented that the “stuff” the justices and lawyers were doing was interesting enough, but it wasn’t entertaining. Quickly I went into the “somebody’s Grandpa” mode and pointed out that life does not come with a requirement for one to be constantly entertained. (Bonus points: I managed to do so without saying “Back in my day.”)
But it did bring to mind the relationship between me and my phone.
My phone, my phone, excuse me here while I let out a heartfelt swooning sigh, at just the mere mention of my phone. I live in it. First thing in the morning I check it, see what I’ve missed (journalism, yo) and last thing at night I set my alarm on it. In between waking and sleeping I interact with in, use it for pictures, quick notes and recordings, seeing, always seeing, what I missed, check in on social media and find out what everyone’s having for lunch and how they feel about cute. Because really, let’s not kid ourselves, I use it for business, sure, but I also use it to entertain me when I am otherwise not entertained.
Well, wait a minute on that.
I’m reminded of the advice I give kids when they ask me what I think about recreational marijuana. (When you’re able to get AARP discounts and have a pony tail, this sort of question comes up from time-to-time.) I tell them not to do it, not to smoke marijuana (the pony tail, therefore, is a lie). I tell them the problem is marijuana entertains you, it keeps you from being bored.
And bored people, I tell them, are the people who come up with things. The Wright Brothers, for example (no, really, this is how I talk about it) were knocking around, off work after putting in a full shift at the bicycle shop, began to tinker around, read a little bit, tinker, read, tinker, and managed to build an airplane. This computer I’m typing this on? Some bored guys knew about computers, that the government had them for government stuff, but wanted something shrunk-down they could use for around-the-house stuff: Went out to the garage, tinkered. You know the rest: The personal computer has becoming a global society-changing device, started by bored guys in a garage.
Some other guys looked at it, managed to shrink it down, and now we have computers that we carry in our pockets, and use as phones, like my phone (pause here, sigh) which I love, but I digress….
So yes, I’m stating that everyone should live like Ebeneezer Scrooge, sitting in the cold in a room lit by a single cheap candle with a focus only on production, yours and others. No time for fun! No time for entertainment!
Of course that’s not what I’m suggesting.
What I am suggesting is taking some time to parse what’s boring you and to - ultimately - be okay with being bored. Not for days on end (gosh, I couldn’t stand that) but at that moment, take it for what it is and use that time, if only to do an inventory of yourself.
Some years ago, when I got my first phone small enough to carry in my pocket (without my pants sagging) I got into the habit of every chirp, every vibration, I’d check the phone. I was plugged in, baby! The world would not be out of touch with Alex Kienlen for long! Then it occurred: I had begun working for my phone.
So I stopped working for my phone. Let it ring. I was enjoying the conversation I was having and getting the word back right away that American Cheese was fine, thanks, simply, it turned out, wasn’t that important. I slowed down, what entertainment I did receive was a slower, deeper, drink, and it turns out the world’s rate of rotation did not change a bit.
I had, it turned out, allowed “entertainment” to be confused with “stimulation,” and was cheating myself out of life’s richness. I slowed down, and, less stimulated, I was more entertained.
But then I’m an idea man, an entertaining sort.