Boredom is a euphemism for intense discontentment with whatever one sought joy and contentment (aware or unaware) FROM but failed to find it therein/therewith to one’s contentment. This failure to provide satisfaction is a feature of those objects of our hopes and adoration (my life, my achievements, my friends, my understanding, my travels etc) that, in my own view, fail to deliver what I was expected “from” them. This is what I consider the most basic sign that I engaged with that object as a source of the good I found in it and not as a sign or news-bearer of the permanent and flawless source of that good. Just as often as there is the absence of such a news about the divine from my awareness, I tend to feel bored just as often. The feeling of boredom and emptiness makes possible more than one response. I can either try to make up for the loss and emptiness and disappointment by making offerings to the same things that have failed to deliver as reliable and adequate sources of satisfaction (myself, community, food, ritual etc.) These offerings to things I want to save me from boredom (a deep existential discontentment) are elaborate and intensified and organized and endowed with gravitas and they are well-storied. We call them festivals.

The other option is to turn to one’s maker with one’s inevitable discontentments and repeated emptinesses (they come and go like hunger does, under the command of their sender, not on account of some flaw or failure related to me). One can realize that things refuse to serve and satisfy me when I expect from them and it is by refusing my requests that they be my lords, they help me look for and find the One who is the source of the goods they bear and the One who can satisfy me.

So I can respond with realizing that for a creature like me, with endless desires and insatiable need for joy, novelty etc, true contentment and safety are with the One who is the endless source of what He makes me need and it is available to me here and now in my realization and acknowledgement of the existence of such a One. My discontentment and the poverty and falsity of my idols point to the existence of such a One. This realization makes my discreet and passing discontentment serve its purpose and makes it “blessed” (mubarak). Every return (eid) of discontentment is (potentially) blessed because with it comes the opportunity that I return to the One, turning away from what I falsely took to be the source.

Or I can spend my time and effort justifying the beauty and meaning of some “festival” and participating in festivities, as offerings to my deities, so that they may lessen my boredom and fill with me some temporary joy and memories etc.

i am sorry if this did not cheer you up.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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