I'm a big podcast fan. If I'm driving alone or cleaning, or getting ready for the day, there's a 90% chance I'm listening to one. Podcasts can be informative and hilarious, and I'm convinced that listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast got me through the worst bout of depression I've ever had. They can make tedious tasks more fun or, if you're like me, keep your mind from spiraling into deeply negative or racing, anxious thoughts.
But I've often wondered if I've relied on them a little too much. I've heard a lot about the fact that the prerequisite for creativity is boredom, and I think it's really important. My friend Rachel's blog post about giving up streaming video for Lent and its positive effect on her writing has particularly haunted me. And in fact, before I discovered podcasts, I used to drive in silence semi-frequently.
But I just couldn't seem to drop my habit. I was a little afraid of being left alone with my thoughts, and honestly, I think a lot of the time, I was justified in that fear. My mind is never not working, and not always in great ways. By listening to podcasts, I wasn't so much avoiding boredom as preserving my sanity and ability to get things done.
Then an interesting thing happened last week. I was getting ready to format the bulletin and slides for my church, a task which I usually do with a Netflix show on in the background. But that day, I realized that I didn't want to have the TV on in the background. It seemed too overstimulating. So I did it in silence. And then, when I drove to meet a friend later, I kept the podcast turned off. I realized I probably hadn't driven by myself without a podcast, intentionally, in about two years. And it was really nice. I don't know if I had any extra creative thoughts that day, but it was encouraging to me that my anxiety had abated enough to welcome some silence.
That said, I'm not planning on cutting out podcasts or Netflix entirely to embrace silence. As long as I have depression and anxiety, I will always have hard days, hours, and moments, and if a podcast or Netflix show will help me get my chores done or get out of the house, the potential loss of creativity is worth it. I doubt I would come up with much of anything in those circumstances, anyway. A deeply anxious or depressed mind is rarely fruitful. Also, it's okay to listen to podcasts and watch TV just because you want to. Someone has to enjoy the fruits of someone else's creativity, after all.
But I do think I'm going to try to push myself on my better days, when it really is just boredom and not my churning mind I'm avoiding, to add in a little more silence. If the quality and/or quantity of my blog posts vastly improves, you'll know why.