.Warning: Everything is F****d.

Or is it not? Caught your attention though. Once upon a time, I walked into a famous Vienna coffee house (Café Ritter) during lunch hour, headed straight to the lone empty table and was about to sit and write, when the guy to my right grabbed the chair and pulled it closer to himself saying, “This is taken.” “Oh, okay,” I said, looking for another empty seat. I found one easily and ordered a glass of wine while I got comfortable with my book.

He hogged that chair for about one hour waiting for his date I guess, leg shaking, unlocking his phone several times to zero messages and zero buzzing and locking it again while twisting a full 90 degrees every five minutes to check the door. “She will never come,” I wanted to say but I remained silent. However, it made me nervous just sitting next to this man. There was so much commotion and movement that I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Being alone at a café is not the worst thing in the world but waiting for a date is, I guess. I love to write at cafés. There, I am a little more self-aware and self-conscious. I like to be present, to enjoy the solo time I have crafted for myself by choosing to sit and focus without anyone else. The anonymity is nice. Being away from the quiet safety of my routine at home, I can pause and take in my new environment. My brain fires in different ways and the writing comes out fresher, less inhibited. I am more open overall. This openness has never failed me. Many times I literally do nothing at all. I sit, watch people and get inspired.

“The quality of life is a proportion, always, to the capacity for delight the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” – Julia Cameron

The unbearable lightness of being bored.

At this point, the hogging-chair person still waited for his date. Still on the phone. Out of a sudden, a little buzz on his phone followed by his sad face. This made me think about technology. When I grew up, there were no cell phones. Or at least no smartphones (How smart are they really?). These days, it is so easy to just send a short message and your date is sad. Our digital age is so full of distractions. It is not unusual to have two or more screens in front of us when we sit down to relax. The first thing everybody does is to put the cellphone on the table before ordering something. For many people, barely a commute goes by without plugging in headphones to listen to something or cramming in another game of Candy Crush on the train. While constant mental stimulation might be the new norm, research suggests that being alone with our own thoughts has surprising benefits. A recent study found that boredom has the potential to spark enormous productivity and creativity. I usually have my strokes of genius while lingering in the bathtub or shower. I know too well that it is easy to feel defeated in more areas than one when it comes to the daily grind. This especially rings true for me this year and I have constantly been on the prowl to find ways to make my life easier.

One of the most delightful benefits of boredom, however, is the ability to fill that brain-space with a daydream or two. Sometimes, letting your mind wander might seem like a crazy thing to do and you may feel guilty because you need to get the spreadsheets to Angela in Accounts but do it anyway because it is so good because our minds are just as powerful as the devices we distract them with. We should give ourselves time to pay attention and allow us to linger in the moment, accept the moment the way it is and cut the garbage out. Just hit the pause button once in a while throughout the day. It is okay to step away and recharge. Also, sleep. Good sleep is crucial; and awesome. Then nothing is really f****d.

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