A few weeks ago someone on Facebook reposted an article from The New York Times called The 'Busy' Trap by Tim Kreider. It was originally published in June of 2012. However, the words in this article are just as true today as they were back then.
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. - Tim KreiderHere is an interview with Kreider about The 'Busy' Trap:
During the Olympics there was a frequently run commercial for Cadillac ELR Coupe 2014 which supported working too much. Though I am sure that is not how they viewed the commercial.
This commercial bothered me a lot. Americans do not need more excuses to over work themselves. We do a fine job on our own. And I am not certain that we truly need more stuff. Sometimes I think the more stuff we have creates the need to keep working harder.
In The 'Busy' Trap, Kreider alludes to the idea that some people may use being busy to justify a job that is not necessary or to feel important. Interesting point. I, also, think that we take the lead from those around us. Are we in an environment where it is necessary to be busy in order to belong?
Now, I do realize that there are jobs where those who do them are busy all the time. I do not know a single teacher who isn't busy starting from before students arrive till after they leave. However, isn't it interesting that you can go into two different classrooms, both are busy, but one class seems calm and relaxed and the other one frantic? How has one teacher maintained a sense of calm while keeping things moving as opposed to the frantic class?
Today, I realized that I use "busy" as a response to how I am doing way too many times in any given day. I need to find a new response. Busy is certainly an honest response, and most of the people I am working with are also just as busy. Somewhere today, I lost two hours. I looked at the clock at one point and it was 3 p.m. and the next time it was 5:15 p.m. Subsequently, I wondered about how much work to bring home and could I finish it all.
The being busy doesn't fully bother me on some level, but what does bother me is when it starts to impact my reactions and how I behave. Am I busy, but calm and focused? Or am I busy, and anxious, and defensive, and not the person I want to be? That's when it truly matters.
I loved this ending to Kreider's article:
My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy. - Tim KreiderNow, I don't think that I will just give up my busy ways over night, and be reformed. However, I do appreciate the sentiment of Kreider's words above. In ten years, will I regret spending time at home finishing up work or will I regret spending time reading with my niece? I suspect the regrets will come in the form of not spending time with family and friends. Additionally, I am looking for that balance. A way to be just right busy where I can maintain a calm and caring personality instead of morphing into some stressed out monster.
Tomorrow's another day. Maybe I will find a new response to the question "how are you"?