Bored by the void of interior noise,
We kill for the thrill of a wearier choice.
Moved up to lose on material joys,
Never knew enough the true love
We always avoid.
Bored. A word saying much for one syllable. Not just for the lethargic, boredom touches the active and inactive alike. The busiest person can also be the most bored, even with an array of new and creative things to take up his time. So if lack of activity is not the root of boredom, what is?
Noise. Boredom surrounds itself with noise. Never knowing quite what will satisfy its volitional ears, boredom listens to everything without savoring anything. The result is a noisy heart that has trouble figuring out what it wants. Boredom and St. Therese of Lisieux have one thing in common: they both choose all. Yet boredom, unlike the Little Flower, gives itself to nothing fully. What is behind boredom’s half-hearted and weary choices?
Fear. We may be as equally dissatisfied with the things outside us as we are ignorant of the things inside us. And we may not know about the things inside us because we are afraid to look and see what’s there. But if we never take a look inside to see who we really are, then how are we supposed to know what will fill us up? Without looking inside, the best we can do is throw a bunch of things in our heart and hope it’s the right fit. But this usually leads to more interior noise than anything else, and the boredom continues.
The human heart has a lot of depth that can take in a lot of love. Yet if we never take a look at our own heart to see what kind of love it needs, then how are we supposed to know how it should be loved? What does a search for love look like when you don’t know how to be loved? Any attempt to fill that desire for love would be like trying to fill an unknown void with things that never quite stick. Throwing a bunch of stuff into that question-mark-of-a-heart doesn’t fill it up as much as it just makes a void of noise that rings fully and discordantly in an empty chamber.
Boredom is not sitting and doing nothing. That may really be enjoyable! Rather, boredom is the constant and exhaustive activity of throwing things inside the human heart without ever knowing what shape the heart has so as to fill it rightly. And we can spend our whole lives bored; trying to fill a heart we haven’t ever really seen; tired of things we have seen; bored by the void of interior noise. What, then, is the antidote to noisy boredom?
Love! Real love! Boredom affects the heart but everyone knows the heart is made to love. To attain love we need to let go of trying to fill our heart ourselves. We need to surrender to the crafter of the heart who knows its shape and chambers perfectly so as to fill it perfectly. Elizabeth of the Trinity says so herself:
To attain love the soul must first be entirely surrendered, its will must be calmly lost in God’s will so that its inclination, its faculties move only in this love and for the sake of this love. I do everything with love, I suffer everything with love…Then love fills the soul so completely, absorbs and protects it so well that everywhere it finds the secret of growing in love, even in its relations with the world; in the midst of love’s cares it can rightly say: My only occupation is loving! (Heaven in Faith)
The lover is never bored. That’s because he’s infatuated with what he loves. And when God is the one you love, there is a lot of Love to keep your attention. In those places where worldly love yields only discordant noise, God’s love will make real music. That’s because God’s love is an eternal song called the Divine Word. And this Word eternally sung has taken on a lower harmony sung in a measure and time called the humanity of Jesus Christ. And we love to hear that harmony played in our heart. After hearing him in our heart, any other song seeking his place will sound, well, boring.
Image: Alfred Hitchcock Yawning