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Arts & Culture

One Person's Boredom Is Another Person's Pleasure

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Edgar Degas's 'Repasseuses [Women Ironing].'

You can find lots of advice about how to avoid feeling bored during this pandemic. There are virtual dance parties and home safaries, lists of what to read and watch, and yoga classes on Zoom.

Boredom is a difficult emotion for most of us. Almost 3,500 people living under quarantine in Italy shared on a survey last week that boredom has been one of the hardest parts of staying inside. We go out of our way to avoid feeling it, like the students who chose electric shock over feeling bored.

Why can't we allow ourselves to be bored? Too much boredom can lead to depression and risky behavior. But it can also deepen awareness and inspire creativity.

And one person's boredom is another person's pleasure. Henrietta Swan-Leavitt was an astronomer at Harvard College Observatory who spent 20 years beginning in 1895 scanning photographic plates to catalogue the brightness of stars.


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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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