Friday, March 6, 2015

After "In Defense of 'Busy'" // Life's Too Short to Hurry

Sean wrote about being busy.

The comings and goings and doings he describes are familiar to me. I'm not there any more, though. I can't say I'm busy in that way anymore. I'm not organizing or producing, and this month even my online writing has diminished as I throw myself into pottery (couldn't resist the pun). And the calm feels really good. Maybe it's part of my recently developed introversion.

There's that Howard Turman quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I surely felt alive when I had a busier lifestyle, connecting with many people, holding and sharing space in various ways. But there was a point when it stopped making me feel alive and mostly made me feel tired. And for a time I was sort of frustrated with myself for stopping, and I mourned the passing of that past self, and I tried to recreate the desire to live that way. But the resistance was not necessary. I was pushing myself to interact with the world in ways that made me feel tired rather than alive.

There was no need for me to push myself to try to be busy-- there are so many ways to contribute to society, to social justice, and different ways to learn about being human, both by being around people and by being alone with ourselves.

The intention I set for this year is "Life's too short to hurry." A reminder to myself that life doesn't have to be frenetic to be exciting, and that there is value in slowness. Even though most of my days don't have much externally-imposed structure, I still create quite a bit of structure for myself.

On Wednesday, I wanted to climb, go to a yoga class, repair some camping gear, spend an hour or two at the ceramics studio, and go to the grocery store before work at the climbing gym at 4:30pm. I also wanted to feed myself and maybe do a little reading. While I was in the yoga class, I was asked to set an intention for the practice and for the day. In the course of the class, I realized that I was imposing a lot of unnecessary urgency into the day. If I could only spend an hour or two at the studio, it wasn't really worth it to go. And if I didn't make it to the grocery store before work, I'd be okay-- there was plenty of food in the house. Once I let myself let go of that urgency, I could feel my mood improving, and things feel lighter. I felt better about the day.

I respect the folks who spend a lot of time working, studying, organizing, going from here to there and everywhere. And I worry a bit, too, when they say they are busy. I avoid being "busy" now because of the way it makes me feel. It makes me feel like there is great time-scarcity in my life, and feelings of scarcity in whateverthing, be it affection, friendship, money, or time, leads to stress. Which leads to a wide array of other negative health and social implications.

Granted, things aren't always light. There are a lot of very dark and heavy things that we must cope with and change in this world. What I fear about "busyness" is that it sometimes feels like being pulled down into that darkness rather than like reaching in and pulling that darkness up to our light.

And it makes me all the more appreciative of those people in my life who are able to be busy and at the same time pull the darkness to light. (Sean is in that group.)

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