Forty Days Til’ Forty, Day 25: My Twenty-Something Perspective on “Busyness”

So I found this one in the vault, written over a decade ago. Here’s an excerpt from: Busyness: A State of Mind or Your Reality?

In Fitness for Life, a gen-ed requirement during college, one of our assignments was to daily record everything we ate for an entire week. While the project seemed tedious, it made me consider more closely what I was ingesting on a regular basis and how often my food choices were not necessarily the most healthy.

I wonder what would happen if, instead of cataloguing our food intake during the week, we were to write down every activity we participated in, both at home and at work, personal and professional. Would our lives look like run-away trains, out of control and on the brink of derailing? Would we really see the busy-ness that we perceive is our reality? Some of us probably would. I would venture to guess, though, that some of us might merely see that much of the time we spend feeling busy is actually a perception of our life and not necessarily our reality.

What we refer to as our state of busyness is more of a feeling of lack of control over the course of day-to-day living; an emptiness for that something that we can’t quite put a finger on but we know is missing. We’re busy perhaps in a state of disconnect from the longing of our souls—for relationships, for community, for a meatier version of our spiritual existence as human beings. We’re busy thinking we’re busy.

But I wonder sometimes if:

Saying we’re busy gets us off the hook for not pursuing a more meaningful spiritual life.

Saying we’re busy keeps others from depending on us.

Saying we’re busy is more of a description for the robotic nature of our lives?

Behind “I’m busy,” what I really hear is, “I spend all day at work, doing a job that I have to do, maybe even hate to do, knowing I want something more, feeling like my time is not my own, and I only have a few short hours at the end of the day to relax.”

I used to think that how busy I was reflected how important I was, how valuable my contribution to this world was. If someone asked me how I was and I couldn’t honestly say that I was “busy”, then they might think that somehow I wasn’t valued in my circle of friends or that obviously I didn’t have a very important job.

Having not been busy from the get-go, right out of college, I actually had developed a distaste for the word. I had been on the other side of busy, and I knew all too well how low that had been because I had associated busy-ness as an indicator of success. I couldn’t express my value to others in one word.

I am not suggesting, however, that everyone who claims to be “busy” is not genuinely engaged in numerous activities and relied upon by others to a point at perhaps which their life might not actually feel like their own at all times. Are many of us merely busy thinking we’re busy? I would like to pose a challenge especially to the church to consider our response and be more conscious of how quickly the word rolls of our tongues. Are we really busy? Or are we just suffering from busy sickness?

If we were to record every activity of everyday, might we see that so much of the activity is devoid of human interaction and relationship, of sharing life with others and delving deeper into our journey with God that it seems busy rather than actually is busy? Perhaps when we quickly answer that we are busy when asked how we are—that in reality we feel and think we’re busy but the activities that put us in this rushed existence are actually serving to up our sense of importance or provide an excuse from making further commitments but leave us starved for true purpose, meaning, and direction in our lives?

I’m speaking from my own experience and introspection here. What I know is what it is like to be on the other side of busy, at first by mere circumstance and then by choice. Busy people are often unapproachable. Busy friends are unavailable. So when I catch myself wanting to say that I’m busy because it might convey that I have things to do, people to see, and places to go, I’m trying to express it in more descriptive terms. And in place of busy-ness, I want to be able to say instead that I’m building friendships, investing in my marriage, growing in my spiritual journey and making myself available for a little more spontaneity and less of a scheduled existence.

Perhaps this is what we call life to the full?

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