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  • Mark Brafield


It's now a month until Christmas. In the church cycle of the year we are in the season of Advent, the season of waiting for Christmas.

The other day I found myself waiting in a queue at the Post Office, and was getting frustrated at the delay. We English are meant to be good at queues, but we are getting impatient with waiting. Online suppliers now vie with one another to provide us with our goods overnight, or the same day, or within the hour.

Part of the problem may be that we confuse waiting with being bored.

Waiting suggests that we are consciously aware that we are waiting for something; in a way, the something defines the waiting.

Being bored, on the other hand, suggests that we are not consciously aware of there being anything coming along soon, but perhaps the real difference is that unconsciously we are in a state of preparation for something to happen, it's just not on the surface of our minds.

In his book 'On kissing, tickling and being bored' (1993), as well as winning the prize for my favourite book title ever, the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips puts it like this ;

'Boredom is actually a precarious process in which the child is, as it were, both waiting for something and looking for something, in which hope is being secretly negotiated; ....boredom, the child is reaching to a recurrent sense of emptiness out of which his real desire can crystallize....The capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child'.

Being bored, in other words, can actually be quite interesting.

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