9/18/12

All you need.

I'm kind of feeling nostalgic today. We had a really long, lazy last two days, especially yesterday. We ran a few errands, threw in some laundry, ate some tacos and watched far too many episodes of Game of Thrones. I felt mildly guilty about the lack of activity sometime around 7 last night but I got up and did some dishes, let it pass and settled back in on the couch. So many people have been talking ad nauseum about this new trendy thing called "being busy." This article in the NY Times is spot on. It is really all the rage right now. I have to laugh a little every time I read about it because, in the past, even in the very recent past, and I'm sure in the very near future too, they are perfectly describing ME. 

I have been running for as long as I can remember. I think part of that is the burning desire I still have to prove myself. To myself, to my mother, my family, my friends. Regardless of the cause, I spent many many, way too many, years of my life being unable to relax. I'd watch movies, and go out with friends, shop, take vacations. But my mind never ever ever stopped. I would have anxiety attacks if my weeks weren't fully booked up with plans and work. I remember years ago, literally bursting into tears on my bed, because I was looking at the week ahead and there just wasn't enough in it. Not enough to keep me busy. To distract me from my life. I felt unimportant, unsuccessful. I would work if there was extra work available. Start school again (If you guys knew how many unfinished degrees I have, on top of the finished ones, you would laugh). Go to dinner, lunch, coffee. Even if I wasn't in the mood. Anything, anything to stay busy.

And you know what? I felt proud of it. It became like bragging rights-"Oh, I am so busy this week, I can't possibly squeeze you in. My plate is full. I have so much to DO. Busy, busy, busy." And if I wasn't busy and someone else went on and on about how they were, I felt defeated. What was wrong with my life? Why wasn't it as full as that persons? Why wasn't I as busy? Failure sat heavy on me. All because I wasn't as busy as the next person. Social media has surely aggravated the situation, as it has aggravated so many situations. My twitter feed is filled to the brim with the constant reminder of how busy everyone is. All of them rushing around frantically at all times, being pulled in this direction or that, SO MUCH WORK, so many plans. And it is often in those times that I will reach for my computer or my phone, to try to book myself up, to fill my weeks full. I still do it. It's hard not to. I mean, if everyone else is so damn excited about being worked to the bone, there must be something totally awesome about it. Right? 

But, here's the thing. I'm not sure there is. Yes, we all need to do work that fulfills us, lead lives that feel full, and find relationships that are meaningful. Does that mean we need to work on all of those things constantly? Not sure about that. What about what happens in the moments where you're NOT doing anything? Do you ever pay attention? Because I have started to and I have found that, in those moments, I stress out less, I feel tens of hundreds of thousands times more inspired, I'm a kinder, softer version of myself. I don't want to be busy all the time. I want to have quiet days at my house, watching the light change and being lazy. I want to cook slow meals in my little apartment kitchen with the man who is also always busy. I want to put down my phone, and my computer, and just do nothing but what I feel like doing. 


This image got me. Right in the gut for some reason. We, like probably all of you, are always talking about the end results of all of our busy-ness. One day we can have a home, with a backyard and a huge kitchen. One day we'll have more money from all of the work we've put in. One day one day one day. Last night, when J was cooking up some slow food, in the middle of a day filled with absolutely nothing, I went into our tiny little kitchen and all I felt was happy. What do we all really need? Why do we make ourselves so busy? What else could you possibly want but a loaf of bread on your countertop, a dog on your sofa, and a cozy little space to call home? 


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1 comment:

  1. This really resonated with me! I too bookmarked that Tim Kreider essay; it was a nice reminder that being busy does not necessarily mean being productive or--perhaps most importantly--happy. I can't wait until I finish my degree (working on my thesis right now...I'm so scared I won't finish, because I have another failed attempt at grad school behind me) so that I can try to build a satisfying life that doesn't aspire to busy-ness as an end in itself.

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