For years, I’ve railed against “busy.”
Busy is the way of begging out of things you don’t want to do by declaring your superiority. It’s not that you don’t want to; you’re just so busy. We use it as a sign of significance.
Busy is how we avoid the real work. The work that will move us forward to our dreams and desires, the creative work that is hard to do.
Busy is how we avoid ourselves, and the discomfort of looking within. It’s how we avoid the inner work.
Busy is how we escape the existential discomforts of life. Loneliness. Fear. Simplicity.
Busy is how people who wish to be significant claim status. One thing I’ve noticed is that the people who truly have a lot of demands on their time always find a way to make time for what’s important to them. They’re never busy.
Busy is the excuse used by those who don’t want to admit that this isn’t a priority for me.
What are we busy with?
Errands. Working. Running around doing things. Going places. Researching things to buy. Planning. Organizing our stuff. Exercising.
Anything we can find to avoid the work of sitting in stillness. As much as we say we’d love to be less busy so we could read a book or have a quiet moment to think, when given that chance how many of us take it?
There’s always more to do.
Now we have lost a lot of the ways we choose to be busy. Stores are closed. We are under orders to work from home.
Suddenly there’s a lot more space for stillness.
Of course, addicts find their fix in any situation, and busy is an addiction.
Just because I preach about the tyranny of busy doesn’t mean I’m not immune. Please. I know the traps because busy is my addiction too.
I spent more hours than I’d like to admit over the past few days, busy with research into how to get WiFi in the place where I’ve been staying. Even though I’ve managed to survive without it for 6 months. Busy. And so human.
Let’s not fall into the illusion that stay at home orders will eliminate busy. You can make yourself busy cleaning your house from top to bottom. Organizing your stuff. Cooking. Reading the news. Taking up a new hobby. You can run your errands online from your computer.
With all the livestream events happening, you can schedule yourself back-to-back with fitness classes and webinars and workshops all day. You can fit in more because you don’t need travel time.
This is one of the efficiencies of working from home.
You can see this situation an opportunity for the silence and stillness you have craved. Instead of choosing busy, you can choose create space for the difficult work.
Stillness. Silence. Self-reflection.
Everything happens for a reason. There’s a lesson here for us about the pace of life as we’ve been living it.
With these new restrictions we’re learning who is truly essential to the functioning of our world.
And we still have agency.
Shelter in place orders will not eliminate busy. Busy is a choice. You still get to decide.