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The Difference Between Monotony and Boredom…

Repetition isn't always boring. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

For some reason I can listen to the same great song on auto repeat for an hour straight. I could eat the same foods every day, and I wake up every morning at 6:30am. I’m not sure why but when I find something I enjoy, I prefer to experience it over and over.

Perhaps that’s why training and running marathons appeals to me as do the routines of married life. I like the repetition.

Most of my friends define that kind of behavior with one word – BORING.

I would argue that while it’s certainly monotonous, it’s not necessarily boring. It’s not that I’m afraid or unwilling to experience new things – because I do and that’s another joy in life – but once you’ve found something you love doing or someone you love sharing life with, the monotony of those loves is a good thing.

When we go out as a family for ice cream, our daughters love a place called “16 Handles” which offers 16 different kinds of ice cream/frozen yogurt and unlimited toppings. The girls love combining different flavor profiles simply because they can. But when they ask me to try it, and I always do, their concoctions are downright nasty at times – and they readily admit it.

While I’m always willing to try something new, the fact is – I like what I like.

I recently started reading a book called Orthodoxy by C.K. Chesterton who referenced this very phenomenon as “…exulting in monotony…”

For instance in children… when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again,’ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.

It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; if may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite for infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence, it may be a theatrical encore.

That was the first time I every equated monotonous living as a positive or as a theatrical encore – but it makes sense. It would be wrong to consider a beautiful sunset each day; repeated hugs from your child; or the ceaseless crash of waves on a beach as boring.

Those things would be “boring” in the same way as the repetition of breathing or a heartbeat might be boring.

Monotonous yes, but not boring.

Question: What are some of the monotonous moments of life that you enjoy and seek out?


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  1. Thank you for the perspective shift. Valuable!

  2. I am not one for monotony. I may not be bored (ok, I probably am)- but I am not exhilarated or inspired, either.
    Avoiding monotony does not mean accepting change that is worse- just so it’s change, either.

    • TorConstantino says:

      Good thoughts Roy – I think your inner drive has served you well and helped shape your myriad of interests in life. That’s a gift…

  3. Some of my favorite monotonous moments is the quiet in the mornings, the sunrise, the way I feel when my hubby comes home every night. I also like the way you write bringing things together. Good post again.

  4. Great quote by Chesterton. I guess monotony vs. boredom is in the eye of the beholder. When I get frazzled I love to go outside and pull weeds. There is comfort and perspective in that kind of monotony – it gets me to be still and know that He is God.

    • TorConstantino says:

      Bonnie, I completely agree that the idea of monotony or boredom are subjective as well as the cathartic benefits. Always good to hear from you and I hope you and your family are well!

  5. I get the same kind of blizzard every time. I get the same kind of Caribou Coffee every time. I get the same order at Wendy’s every time. I say this is a way to not be disappointed and certainly not boring. Enjoyed the reading.

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