There is a commercial that plays regularly on one of the local radio stations that talks about our "entertainment needs" as if entertainment ranks right up there with food, water, and shelter. Abraham Maslow would turn over in his grave! Every time I hear that commercial I want to beat my head against the wall and wail "what is the world coming to?" Alongside that vein of thought is the fact that I have taught my kids that "bored" is a bad word. It is a punishable offense to utter the "b-word" at my house. I brought that ethic from my family of origin. My brother never quite learned the dire consequences of the b-word, so he would tell my mother that we were bored. It always resulted in sore muscles and blistered hands as my mother’s cure for boredom was copious amounts of manual labor. I never uttered the b-word because I was NEVER bored, not even as an adolescent. And this was back in the days of three or maybe four television channels at the most—back in the BC years (Before Cable).
Even now, I am never bored and my "entertainment needs" are always met, even if the electricity, the cable, the internet, and the telephone should cease to work at the same time. How can that be possible? Because I am a crafter-artisan! Those of us who engage in creative pursuits are never, ever bored. There is always something to occupy my hands and my mind and then there is all that great deep thinking made possible by the occupied hands and mind. Some of my best conversations with God happen while I am knitting, quilting, or embroidering.
Crafting has experienced a renaissance in the past decade. Many people have figured out how satisfying it is to produce something beautiful or useful while feeding your mind and soothing your soul. I believe the so-called "entertainment need" is really a need to have our minds stimulated and challenged. I would rather do that actively by learning something and producing something rather than passively by sitting in front of a screen whether it be a television or a computer. Many of us are overstimulated and overchallenged on a regular basis. Elizabeth Zimmerman said, "Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either." Many crafts have that effect, occupying our hands and our brains, giving our spirits the time and the space to breathe slowly and become calm again.
I am not trying to say that everyone should have their cable disconnected or throw away their cell phones and computers. I, for example, have a hard time imagining life without Google or Amazon. I would never have completed my first pair of handknit socks without YouTube on my iPhone to show me how to do SSK stitches and the Kitchener stitch! I just think we need to consider some of the other needs identified by our great psychological theorists, like Erikson’s need to leave a legacy, or Maslow’s spiritual needs, or Harlow’s need for nurturance and companionship. Entertainment, AKA mental stimulation, is certainly important, but it needs to be kept in balance with the other needs. The artsy-craftsy life has led to me keeping many of those needs met, and made the meeting of the basic needs much more entertaining and enjoyable. Boredom? Never in Spring Creek!! SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com