“Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” Let’s admit it, we’ve all uttered this at some point in our lives…. And some of us may have the dubious reputation of using the ‘b’ word practically every day. In this wonderfully intuitive article The ‘Busy’ Trap, the writer mocks how ‘BUSY’ has become almost a self-congratulatory boast of sorts.
What is interesting, he sardonically points out, is that the folks who are pulling back-to-back shift in the ICU or a factory line or those working 3 minimum-wage jobs a day to pay the bills aren’t the ones complaining about being busy. It’s those whose busyness is voluntarily self-imposed that complain.
What they actually mean is that they’re tired, not busy. They’ve taken on work and obligations voluntarily…including enrolling their kids in classes and activities. According to the writer, “They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence”. Apparently people feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. These adults, if they’re parents, feel the need to schedule down their kids’ lives down to the minute with classes and extracurricular activities. So, even children now end up coming home at the end of the day as tired as grown ups. Children with free time on their hands are a rarity these days.
The writer correctly muses that, “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” The human brain requires restorative tonics like space, quiet and relaxation. Paradoxically, rest is necessary to get any constructive work done. Issues like anxiety, insomnia and other health-related illnesses are a product of our own insecurities. Is all this histrionic exhaustion a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter? Life is too short to be busy.