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People throughout history have sought ways to describe groups of people. They’ve identified these groups of people by connecting them together through common traits or features. Some of these are by Zodiac sun signs, personality traits, skin color, height, weight, bloodlines, inheritance, cultures, nationalities and gifts.

As a person who loves categorization such studies always fascinate me and I love to identify where I fit within a schema in order to understand myself better…all the while resisting ultimate classification. In some circles I am an introvert because I gain my energy and point of balance by being alone and surrounded by silence or nature. In some circles I am a highly sensitive person because external stimuli very quickly overwhelms me way before most people even notice that a stimulus exists. In some circles I am a Leo, Melancholy/Sanguine, and an INTJ. However, these are all definitions that others have created. I don’t know that I fully accept these “other” definitions even though collectively they come close to describing how I experience the world.

The truth is, there is never a moment in my life when I’m not aware of the world around me. All of my senses feed me information from multiple dimensions simultaneously. My mind is constantly evaluating, thinking, imagining, dreaming, connecting, asking, wondering, discovering. My inner life is so rich and varied and complex that I greatly enjoy spending time there.

So, whenever I need to experience this place within, I look for tedium…repetitive tasks…repetitive music…repeating patterns…repeating rituals. One of the greatest draws for the library world is that this environment provides ample opportunities for tedium. There is shelf reading, shelving, database updates or clean-up, inventory, cataloging, stamping, book labeling, book jacket covers and many many other repetitive tasks. I love them all. But, not all people do. Many people feel that such tasks result in incredible boredom and they avoid them at all costs.

Some of my former students felt similarly. As I taught them the procedures for each task, there were piles of objects that needed the same procedures, offering repetition for learning purposes…at first. As they finished the last object, I always asked them if they were bored or if this repetitive task was going to be challenging for them. Some said no, some said yes. I always asked why.

The ones who said no told me that the repetition allowed them to relax. They didn’t have to focus on anything except that easy task in front of them. And because that easy task in front of them didn’t require a lot of attention once they learned the procedure, their minds were free to wander…to wonder…to explore…to dream…to imagine…to be creative…to feel. For these students, their time working with me in the library was their most favorite time of their week…not because of me or the library, but because they were able to step out of their routines and lower their stress levels by getting out of their logical minds and spend time in their creative minds.

When I explained this gift to the students who said no, some stared at me in wonderment…others stared at me with disdain. For those who felt disdain I knew that they weren’t yet ready to explore their inner selves and face the vast complexities that lay deep within. For them, tedium would always be boring and something to be avoided…at least while they were working with me…so I created a different series of tasks for them. However, for those who stared at me in wonderment I knew that they were about to discover some of the most magical parts of themselves…and I got to watch it happen.

This period in time is similar for each of us. As we slow down and spend time in Mercury Retrograde the energy supports both repetition and creative wonderment should we choose to engage with it. If you do, I invite you to find tedious and repetitive tasks that you may have been avoiding…tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking…tasks that come easily to you. It may be washing dishes or washing the car or watering plants or putting clothes away or folding laundry or ironing or filing or walking or running on a treadmill. Get comfortable in the menialness of the pattern and then allow your mind to wander. Watch where it goes…suspending judgement. You can engage with the thoughts or not, but if you do, just explore them…avoid criticizing or evaluating them…simply ask for more information and watch what comes to you. Embrace this opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of your life…to enter into a task-based meditation…to connect deeply within and find those inner treasures which hold the answers you seek…for this is the gift of tedium.

And so it is.


P.S. For an additional and delightful perspective, check this out.