The Flip Side of Boredom

Napoleon Bonaparte remained a headache and heartache for all of Europe for over a decade. He was finally defeated in the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815. If Napoleon had been victorious in this battle, the political journey and history of Europe would indeed have been very different. All the enemies of Napoleon breathe air of relief when Napoleon was forced to accept defeat at Waterloo. But a person of the caliber and charisma of Napoleon could never be ruled out for a comeback. Even though Napoleon was down after the Waterloo battle, he was certainly not out. Even after Napoleon was inflicted a crushing defeat at Waterloo in 1815, his enemies were certainly still wary of him. Maybe this was the reason why the European rivals of Bonaparte did not feel comfortable about harboring him in any of the high security and sophisticated prisons on European soil. As long as Napoleon’s feet were on European soil (even if it happens to be a high-security prison), his enemies would still feel insecure and unsafe. Maybe this was why, after the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was dispatched off to the solitary island of St. Helena situated faraway in Southern Atlantic Ocean.   Napoleon spent about six years in the island of St. Helena and finally passed away in 1821. While he was on this island, Napoleon probably thought and planned about escaping from the island and making a comeback into the political arena of Europe to relive his past glories. However, Napoleon was neither able to escape from the island nor make a comeback into European power politics. He lived a lonely and solitary life for about six years in this island and died. Some sources say that Napoleon died of stomach cancer. But most sources say that he simply died of loneliness and boredom. For me, this is startling revelation. Can somebody really die of loneliness and boredom…especially someone of the stature and caliber of Napoleon? For many years I thought that this statement was an exaggeration and a hyperbole because I did not believe that someone could die of loneliness and boredom.  

Bur now as I come of age, I have come to realize that loneliness and boredom may actually kill. Loneliness and boredom can be real testing times. The times we spend in loneliness and boredom are really very crucial and critical because it can actually make or unmake our lives. One can actually make the optimum use of loneliness and boredom for good or for worse. As is rightly said, “Our quietest moments are our greatest experiences”.  

Man can find fulfillment and meaning only when he lives in a society. God also created woman to accompany the man because God thought that it was not good for the man to be alone. Yes, loneliness can be an incredible thing. When a man is left alone to live a solitary life without any contact with the outside world, he may even go insane and mad. All sorts of thoughts, wild imaginations and fantasies, unrealistic ideas and assumptions can enter his mind and ultimately make him unfit for societal life. Under such circumstances he steadily becomes more accustomed to the virtual world rather than the actual world. This is why when a person who has been out of touch with the outside world for a long time comes back to the society, he becomes un-adjustable, easily irritable, odd and wild. And the society would also look at him with raised eyebrows and unsavory regards.  

Yes, even while in society, we need times to be by ourselves alone in order to reorganize our bearings. In fact, times spent alone by ourselves can prove to be most productive and fruitful. But the fact still remains that man is a social animal and he can find true fulfillment and meaning only in the society.  

I guess this is what makes the phenomenon of boredom very crucial, critical and vulnerable. Unless we learn to manage our free and boring times effectively, our life can certainly turn topsy-turvy. Many youngsters develop unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and drug-use in their free and boring times when they have nothing to do. Thus our free times can prove to be very crucial in determining our fate. It is important that avenues should be created so that young people do not waste their leisure in unproductive and destructive things. Rather we should see to it that the free leisure times of the youngsters are used and diverted productively so as to bring about worthy and desirable outcome not only for themselves but for the whole society.  

Some people, after retiring from govt. service, roam about aimlessly without any sense of purpose and meaning. After being in govt. service for 30-35 years, many become somewhat lost and out-of-place after their retirement. They had been so accustomed to their life as govt. servants that many literally fail to see the life that lies beyond. However, if we can look from a different angle, we will see that our years in retirement can prove to be most fruitful, productive and satisfying not only for ourselves but also for our family, near and dear ones, our society and also the upcoming generations. Once one retires from service, one can thrust himself upon doing things which one had always wanted to do but could not do while in service. One can become a source of joy, encouragement and inspiration to many by simply doing simple unassuming things which usually do not demand much from us apart from our time and presence. It can be something as simple as attending weddings and funerals in the community or devoting more times into church activities and church missions. Or it can even be something as simple as visiting sick and needy people and praying for them. It can also be something like spreading words of support, encouragement, advice and wisdom to others specially the youngsters. Yes, for the avid person with determination to live a fruitful life and leave back a meaningful legacy, the opportunities are indeed limitless.  

But if one fails to learn, understand and do these simple but meaningful things, the years in retirement can turn out to be the most unsavory, most tedious and most regrettable where you become a burden, headache and a heartache not only for yourself but for your entire family, your near and dear ones and even your neighbors and the immediate society. Yes indeed, it is enthusiasm and passion for life combined with faith in God that can really make one’s retirement period as lively and exciting like one’s years in college or service. Yes, when someone is interested in something or is passionate and enthusiastic about something or feels a sense of purpose and meaning in life, he is found to be more healthy mentally and physically than others who do not have such passion, enthusiasm or feel such purpose and meaning in life.  

It is a concern that our educational boards and universities usually take a long time in declaring results like those of HSLC, HSSLC, graduation and post graduation. Students usually have to wait for months for their results after they had sat for the exams. While they wait for their results to be out, many can go astray and fall into bad habits or bad company and lose their focus out of loneliness and boredom in their free time. Therefore it is very important for the parents, elders and teachers to keep the youngsters healthily engaged in meaningful and productive environment so that the youngsters do not lose their sense of purpose and direction even during such trying times when they are young, free and highly sensitive and vulnerable.  

So the bottom-line is this: everybody encounters loneliness and boredom in life. In the apparent scenario, loneliness and boredom seem to be trivial things with not much part in determining our life, status and fate. But it is certainly not so. The approach with which one handles these phenomena of life can really be crucial in determining how far we would go in life. The way we manage our time of loneliness and boredom can either propel us to unknown territories of satisfaction, success and happiness or it can flush us down the dirty sewer of disappointment, shame, frustration, failure and defeat. Yes, how we spend our free and boring times can prove to be very crucial and decisive. We can either end up doing something so important, vital and productive that it can change our lives altogether for the better or we may end up doing or cultivating undesirable habits that can literally send us down the steep river of deep despair and defeat from where there is no return…………