Much if not most of our behavior stems compulsively from our boredom. We spend hours on Facebook because we are bored. We fill our lives with appointments and events and functions because we are bored. We watch TV, read books, and fill our lives with endless distractions principally because we are bored. Sadly, we even take up social causes for this same reason. We are bored and we think it will not only rescue us from our boredom, but give our lives meaning at the same time.
Such motivation will only lead us to a growing emptiness over time. Our boredom is an incontrovertible part of human existence, and the more we fight to alleviate it, the stronger it becomes, like a bacteria with consistent exposure to the same drugs. Until we realize this–that we cannot conquer our boredom–we will never be able to reach deep within ourselves to find the spiritual motivation to do what it is we are called to do.
Frequently we hear career counselors and academic advisors and other such people ask us the question “What would you do every day if money were no object?” with the implication that our response to that question ought to be what we choose to do with our time anyway. This superficial nonsense is perceived to be a show of wisdom, but it couldn’t be more distant from true wisdom, for it is a rationalistic question that has a rationalistic answer.
The deep mysteries of life–those things that cannot be measured or studied with the scientific method–are beyond the scope of rationalistic inquiry. We may attempt to treat them rationalistically, but this is perhaps why there is a growing spiritual emptiness in our generation. We probe these questions with the mind and come up short. We should be probing these questions with the heart. But that is a far more difficult thing to do.
To explore this question of calling from and with the heart requires us first to quiet the noise inside us, and all around us. We must withdraw ourselves from the endless calculations of the mind. We must withdraw ourselves from being in constant communication with the world around. This means not only that we must cease sending signals outward, but we must barricade ourselves from receiving inbound signals. We must make ourselves totally inaccessible to the world, and the world totally inaccessible to us.
Then we must continue to fight against our proclivity toward processing. Processing and Contemplation are two different, and indeed mutually exclusive activities. Processing is what we do most of the time. It is where we make our pro & con lists in our head, where we review what was said, preview what we might say, where we rehearse and rehash conversations and scenarios, where our mind is at the peak of its activity. Contemplation, on the other hand, is the struggle to stop processing and start listening to the still small voice of the Divine that is always speaking to us, but whose words are rarely heard because we are too busy drowning them out.
We need to learn how to create a desert in our mind so that we can hear perfectly clearly the words being spoken to us from our hearts, out of the Soul of God. The noisome chatter must give way to the providential symphony of silence. Then we might be able to hear that calling. Then we might be evoked to right action, not out of compulsion or boredom, but out of a response to the call.