I’m always busy. You probably are, too. We zip from project to project, destination to destination. We multi-task and feel guilty we can’t do three things at once instead of two. We put memo pads beside our beds in case we remember something else we need to do in the middle of the night. We keep magazines or mail to peruse in the bathroom. We brush our teeth while we’re devising our next contribution to the Word game we’re playing on our iPhones.
My life’s been like that. But June? June was a new leap forward. In June we sold our house, tried to buy another, failed, divided our belongings into three categories, rented a 10′ U-Haul, contracted with a moving company, then proceeded to let them pack and store the Florida stuff while we moved the NY stuff ourselves. Oh, and in between? I wrote whenever I could, answered email and tried to blog. In the middle of this? Did I forget to mention the knee surgery and physical therapy? Or all the retirement celebrations for my husband who completed 39 years of ministry?
So it’s been a crazy, busy time, which is why Southern Exposure lagged. And frankly, I paid the price. For two weeks after arriving in New York, I was so exhausted that lifting one foot to put in front of the other was a challenge with no reward. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to stare into space and remind myself why we made these changes. I wasn’t mourning. I was just, well, tired of being busy.
I’m delighted to say that two weeks of limited activity has done the trick. I’m looking forward to finishing my book and enjoying life again in between chapters. I’m looking forward to finding another permanent home, and just as much to not having a deadline to do so.
But really, it takes a month like June to remind me how important it is not to be busy.
There was a wonderful editorial piece in the New York Times on the last day of June, which was symbolic for me. Tim Kreider in The Busy Trap tells us that people aren’t busy because they have to be (those who really must be complain of exhaustion, not busyness) but because they’re responding to their own anxieties and fears. I love his final line, “Life is too short to be busy.”
Life really is too short to be busy, particularly for a writer. How can we write if we don’t spend at least half our time filling the well? But wait, isn’t that true for stay-at-home mom’s, too? How can they be patient, thoughtful parents if they’re so busy running their kids from place to place they don’t have time to listen to them?
And isn’t it true for doctors, who these days don’t have time to listen or ponder a difficult diagnosis? Or the lawyer who’s so busy preparing multiple briefs and keeping track of billable hours he/she loses sight of the human side of the legal equation?
What about you? How does your “busyness” keep you from moving to a more thoughtful, values-driven life? What keeps you away from the things that really matter? I plan to spend July asking myself that question. But not while I’m doing a million other things. That would surely defeat the purpose. Maybe I’ll find some quiet places to sit and simply think about what I can let go of. That would be revolutionary.
How about you?
If you haven’t commented to enter my 70 Book Giveaway, you have until July 31st. Everything you need to know is right here. I’m delighted to say the first winner of a package of five books has been chosen and contacted. Congratulations Beverly Silvestre, whose comment was chosen by random.org. The next winner will be chosen tomorrow. If you’ve already entered, sit back and enjoy the summer breeze. You don’t need to be busy again. You’ve done your part.