Remona Aly
Saturday 03 March 2018 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Cracks of bored brilliance

Cracks of bored brilliance
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary


On the blizzardy Tuesday just gone, it happened to be my birthday. It’s a day I always try to forget, but it came upon me with a vengeance just like the beast from the east – unforgiving, brutal and totally in my face.

I remember being 18, 25, 30, like it was yesterday, but each year closes in on itself faster than the last, leaving me spinning like a top. Well, it’s probably my own fault. Because I tend to fill every spare minute in the day ‘doing’ something. Before I know it, the year has been crammed full of important stuff like box sets, funny cat videos, and finding just the right emoji.

But I had a time out reminder. One of my birthday cards included a poem by William Henry Davies, which read: ‘What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.’

It actually made me nostalgic about the times when we had fewer distractions. Those good old days when you had to wait 40 minutes for the Amstrad to load ‘Roland on the Ropes’. When there were no instant shows ‘on demand’. The days when we actually had time to twiddle our thumbs, instead of wearing them out on smartphones.

I heard a Ted talk recently by an American author called Manoush Zamorodi, who said we frantically try to fill all the cracks in the day, instead of allowing ourselves the opportunity to be bored. But those cracks of boredom can lead to moments of brilliance. For when our minds wander, different connections take place in our brain and that’s when imagination and creativity rise up.

As someone who loves the buzz of being connected with people, offline and on, I need to defeat the fear of the quiet, find my time to get bored and most importantly to shine. The 9th century Persian Sufi mystic, Bayazid Bastami, said, “I never saw a lamp shining more brilliantly than the lamp of silence.”

So instead of being like the average person who picks up their phone 60 times a day to fill in those gaps, I’m going to brace myself for a promising bored yawn.

If as they say, blessed are the cracked for they let the light in, then I’m happy to embrace my life as a total crackpot.