A lasting memory from my days at university – one of the few actually connected with my studies – was a tutorial about William Blake which gradually turned into a discussion of the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner. Our tutor, a man who died far too soon, elucidated Blake’s notions of Innocence and Experience in terms of Christopher Robin’s attempt to explain his own Going Away to his friend Pooh:
“I’m not going to do nothing anymore.”Which had quite a resonance for a bunch of fresh-faced 18-year-olds, many grappling for the first time with overdrafts and washing machines, but not quite yet in the real world. At least we were still allowed to do nothing. We were studying English after all.
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Many miles and years from the 100 Aker Wood, I happen upon a piece about the bloody iPad. The schtick is that the author, Peter Bregman, wants to give his back because “any free moment becomes a potential iPad moment.” And that’s the problem:
But something – more than just sleep, though that’s critical too – is lost in the busyness. Something too valuable to lose.The funny thing is, Bregman isn’t some eternal student, a balding soixante-huitard who still deploys Christopher Robin and Blake and Alice and Syd Barrett and The Wind In The Willows and The Magic Roundabout in an effort to destabilise the military-industrial complex and justify the fact that he never irons his trousers. He’s writing for the Harvard Business Review, for crying out loud. This is work he’s talking about. So the next time your boss catches you staring into the middle distance when you’re meant to be doing something even less interesting, just tell her that you’re brainstorming with yourself, and she can run that one up the flagpole and see who plays Poohsticks with it.
Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that’s where creativity arises.