Bored?

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        “There is no excuse for being bored. The world is overflowing with more than enough beauties and fascinations and mysteries to fill several lifetimes. There are always more books to be read, and, amazingly enough, still more books to be written. There are more problems to be solved, and more solutions to be celebrated. And there are endless games to be played. And yet the modern world is bored. Modern art reflects the boredom. So do the people who patronize it. No great literature is being produced. And, if it is, certainly no one is reading it. On the social front, most of the genuine injustices are being fought by only a few lonely voices, while the rest of us languidly turn our heads. And games are something we hire professionals to play for us, while we merely watch. Our entertainment grows louder, flashier, and more bizarre in ever more desperate attempts just to keep our attention.

        “As G.K. Chesterton proclaims: ‘The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.’ There are no dreary sights, he declares, only dreary sightseers. He claims that there were two things he never encountered in his whole life: an uninteresting subject or an uninteresting person. But he did find many uninterested persons. The Bored. The Cagey. The people who think the excitement is elsewhere, never here. These were the people he was trying to convince of a very important lesson in life: that the richest discoveries are the things close by, the things overlooked. ‘We may scale the heavens and find new stars innumerable, but there is still the new star we have not found–that on which we were born.’

        “For Chesterton, everything is a source of fascination. As a young man, he realized that no one else seemed to take such ‘a fierce pleasure in things being themselves’ as he did: he says he was startled and excited by ‘the wetness of water, the fieriness of fire, the steeliness of steel, the unutterable muddiness of mud’. This led him to understand that when we call a man ‘manly’ or a woman ‘womanly’ we touch the deepest philosophy. It also led him to understand his own vocation as a writer and a literary artist. He was not selfish with his gift of being able to see the world in all its fullness. He tried to give us his eyes to see the world as he saw it, to reawaken in us a sense of wonder.”

–Dale Ahlquist

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