Last week I read a fascinating article Tim Kreider wrote for The New York Times about being busy. He says the standard response when you ask someone how they are is, "Busy." Or "So busy" or even "Crazy busy." Isn't that so true?
I've often said that busyness has become a competitive sport for us in the U.S. And are we better off for it? I would argue that we aren't. And that seems to be Kreider's opinion too, starting with the title of his piece: "The 'Busy' Trap."
He says we feel anxious and guilty when we're not busy. Even our children (and grandchildren) are totally booked up with activities that are planned. My middle son and I often talk about how he and his brothers enjoyed pick-up softball games on the sandlot near our small town home. But his kids were part of teams from the time they were very small. It's just how things work in suburban America these days.
Back to Kreider. He suggests that busyness seems to serve as "a hedge against emptiness" letting us know that we really do matter. But he argues that idleness "is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body." He adds, "The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole...." Yes, oh yes!
I hope you are allowing what I've long called "white space" onto the pages of your life. Pull back from some of the "shoulds" and the endless to-do lists and find time to just look at the tree outside your house or the flowers in your back yard. Watch the cloud formations. Smell the flowers. Think great thoughts. Or none at all. Take time to play. It will re-energize you and bring you much more joy than crossing endless items from your to-do list.
What will you answer next time someone asks how you are?