Have a problem to solve? Drive across Kansas.

cornfield-1651379_1920For various reasons, I have driven across Kansas several times in the last 3 months. Holy cow, is it boring! Driving east from Colorado on I-70, you soon find yourself with very little to see and even less to do. By the time you get to Hays, Kansas, your entertainment options are limited to the barrage of billboards near the highway or one of the three radio stations within range (two religious and one that plays both kinds of music: country AND western). You are talked out, tired and sick of reading. Internet connection is iffy (at best). There is nothing to see but fields and fields of various grains. You change lanes merely because you need a change of scenery. You contemplate the meaning of “Rock Chalk Jay Hawk”.

You become bored.

And then… something miraculous happens.

Just about the time that I think I am going to pull my hair out one strand at a time, I get an idea. I solve a problem that I have been working on forever or I have a flash of insight into a situation I’ve been frustrated by. I am suddenly inspired about what to do next, and I spend the rest of the trip fleshing out that idea or inspiration.

It. Happens. Every. Time.

In the age of digital media, we don’t allow ourselves to get bored. It’s too easy to distract ourselves with endless TV shows, multiple social media platforms and an infinite number of ways to play solitaire. But we need to be bored: out of boredom comes creativity! When we empty our brains of all our obligations, work, home, family… then and only then are our minds free to move creatively.

The next time you have a problem to solve, drive across Kansas. Leave your phone / TV / computer off for a whole day. Stare at corn fields. Think about the meaning of “Rock Chalk Jay Hawk”. Think about billboards. Think about nothing.

(And if you happen to figure out the whole “Rock Chalk Jay Hawk” thing, come explain it to me when you do.)