Originally Published: July 14, 2014 6 a.m.
There are three phrases that let us know that summer is officially here. "There's nothing to do." "I'm bored." "It's too hot to do anything." Yes, the children are home from school and now all of the fun begins. After days crammed with structure, activities, schedules and a vast array of projects, the kids are trying to figure out ways to fill the void. My grandsons pretty much create as much mischief as possible on any given day. I think they're not alone.
On the topic of boredom, a group of John Hopkins researchers claim that boredom is a major problem for people of all ages. It is the guiding force behind any number of problem behaviors in children, the cause of midlife crises in adults and depression in the elderly. In fact, boredom on the job ranks number three of all employee complaints! People may be overworked, multi-tasked to the max, and stressed-out, but boredom still manages to cause considerable trouble for lots of folks - kids included .In other words, you can have plenty to do and still be bored!
Some psychologists claim that many people don't realize that their routines lack challenge and they end up being terminally unfulfilled. Boredom sets in gradually, like a slow moving storm. Evidently, this leads to all manner of unhealthy behaviors, from overeating to doing mean things just for the heck of it. Hey, when a woman in California claimed that she set her backyard on fire, just because she was "bored and tired of nothing exciting happening" (plus she wanted to meet a fireman), it might mean that boredom is a public danger!
Sometimes boredom can lead to creativity. Many fantastic musicians were left alone as children, with nothing more than a guitar to keep them company. Without childhood boredom, we might not be able to thrill to the greatness of a B.B. King! Left home alone during summer months, King picked up his uncle's guitar at age 7 and started "strumming to fight off loneliness and boredom." The rest is history. Artists, inventors, writers and musicians often mastered their talents when faced with the prospect of having nothing to do. Perhaps our kids need a few musical instruments lying around instead of video games.
Summer is the time for family vacations, fishing trips, water slides and all desperate attempts to remain cool in the heat. This is the time of year when I look lovingly at my sweatshirts, knowing that cool weather still exists just over the horizon. While we welcomed the rains, it has been too hot! A woman in Prescott Valley emailed me to say that she "lives for winter" and hibernates every summer in order to survive. She claims she simply can't stand the heat and refuses to cook in the summer (I might try this), refuses to venture out in peak heat hours and stays cranky until mid-August Hey, it can be pretty darn hot all the way to September, why get nice a month too soon?
A woman in Phoenix called into a radio show, wondering if couples aren't more romantic (she used a different term, but this is a family newspaper) during winter months. "Who can stand the thought of touching during the summer?" was her question. Well of course that is true in Phoenix! But in Prescott, folks still know a few things about romance! Hmm, come to think of it, I don't notice too many couples holding hands as they walk around our fair communities during the hot months.
Oh, back to the issue of boredom. I have told my grandsons that there are plenty of exciting things to do this summer. There are books to read, movies to watch, guitars to strum, volunteer jobs available, fences to paint, rooms to clean, pets to pamper, fish to catch and dinners to cook. Most of these things are free and fun. It just takes a little effort to fight the blahs.
Maybe it's a combustible combination... boredom plus monsoons. With a little creativity, a few fun things to do, and a musical instrument lying around, we can conquer the blahs with ease. For those of you who are brave, you might even want to hold hands! If not... September will be here before you know it.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor who lives in Skull Valley Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.