So the older guy is relaxing in his recliner reading the morning newspaper when his wife asks him, “What are you going to do today?” to which he quickly responds, “Nothin.” “That’s what you did yesterday,” she harped. “Yea,” he replied, “but I didn’t finish.”
Unfortunately, that’s a pretty rare state of being in our gotta-be-busy lifestyles today, especially if you have kids and more especially if those kids are in sports or dance or cheer or whatever else is out there to keep them occupied.
The Busyness Bane
Personally, I am SO busy—and I’m an “empty-nester.” It seems I have 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM planned almost every single day. Clients, writing, developing projects, gym, meetings, and learning all the new tools I need to be a proficient blogger/videographer. I hardly have time to visit family and friends, paint or draw, or just sit down and chat with my wife.
And do you know what’s terrible? You are probably even busier. I have this haunting feeling that we take some kind of perverted pride in being busy. It accomplishes two very important goals:
- Busyness confirms that we have value. People need us. Life needs us. God, the whole world needs us. Haha
- What’s even more insidious, it means we don’t have to be alone with ourselves. Yikes. What an abhorrent thought? Time to listen to ourselves think? Time to face our inner demons from whom we long to hide? We either have forgotten or never learned how to just “be.”
Whatever happened to reading or journaling or writing letters to friends or napping or walking the neighborhood and simply chatting about “nothing?” Going to bed at 10 PM relaxed and waking at 7 in the morning without the stress of getting yourself and everyone else ready to frantically run through the frantically busy day filled with frantic crap that actually means nothing.
Calendar or Grocery List
Those days went out with the twist. I remember the day when my parents and I would drive 10 miles to a friend’s house “unannounced.” Yes. No kidding. No schedule, no date. Just a desire to visit friends cause it sounded cool. And you know what? Sometimes we would show up unannounced at dinner time and the hosts would be so delighted to see us they would invite us to join them for dinner. Huh? What planet were we on? You just don’t do that kind of thing!!!
We’ve become so entrenched in activity that our homes are cordoned off to be more like “safe harbors” instead of welcome dwellings of loving interaction with friends and loved ones.
How much of this rings true in your life? Are you too busy? Does your daily calendar look like a month’s grocery list?
It’s All About “Choice” Again
I may sound like a skipping record but I keep coming back to the same refrain: It’s all a choice! Just a couple days ago I listened to an interview that suggested most of our “busyness” is self-inflicted. In other words, we choose to be busy.
We “choose “ to allow our schedules to be filled or open. Honestly, like I suggested above, I think the biggest issue is that too many of us are actually afraid to be alone. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. First we feel bored, then anxious, and about that time here come those demons that tell you if you’re not busy you’re not valuable.
So… how about making a “new choice “. A choice to “make time” for Yourself, especially when “YOU DON’T HAVE TIME.” You can start slowly at first, and then gradually increase that time to enjoy wherever you are. You’ve heard the old adage, “Wherever you are, Be All There!”
Do Less and Be More
(Concept from Terry Hershey)
Here are some ideas:
- Make a conscious choice to Do Less, so you can Be More. Scheduling fewer things to do will allow you time to simply revel in the day. For instance, right now I am writing this post IN BED on my iPad. My unassailable morning routine has it that I am supposed to be cleaning up and dressing so that I can go to my office to write. Huh? Who said so? Me!!! So “I” can choose to do it differently and enjoy doing so.
Right now I am “being more” by “doing less”. I am comfortable in bed genuinely enjoying this time of writing leisurely.
- Schedule Nothing Time in your calendar. Really. Actually block out hours of Nothing as if they were an activity in whichever calendaring or scheduling system you use. And then force yourself to shop or read or write or nap or straighten up your house or better yet, get a massage. Whatever. Make it YOUR TIME.
- Convince yourself that busyness does not define you. This will definitely take some time because you’ve been so conditioned to think otherwise. You’ve learned to equate busyness with personal productivity and thus, valuable. It’s a crock! YOU ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN PROBABLY 75% OF YOUR ACTIVITIES. In the eyes of your creator you are valuable simply because “you are.” In the eyes of people and of God you are loved for who you are, not all the busy activities you do.
I must be careful here not to confuse your activities of love and service and the wise use of your natural talents with busyness. THOSE are the things you were put on this planet to do. But even Jesus, one of the most productive people in history, took A LOT of time to himself to ponder and pray. Why, he even walked away from serving people saying, “It’s time to go.” And then he went off by himself.
So why can’t you do the same thing?
- One final crazy suggestion. Take a leisurely walk. Not at treadmill speed. Maybe even without a destination in mind. Some of your most profound thinking happens on a walk. (I just read that Einstein came up with the basic idea of relativity during a walk.) When you walk you see things differently, hear new things, savor sweet and sour aromas. Anyway, just a thought.
FYI: I plan to mostly walk (and train) a small part of Europe this June. All I know for sure is I land in Paris and fly out of Amsterdam 15 days later. I have little idea of what happens in between.
Bottom-line: You are way too valuable to say, “I don’t have time.”
Of course you do, Make Time! We absolutely need the work and activities of love you do on a regular basis. But you’re nowhere nearly as effective when you’re doing it with a frantic and burned-out heart.
So make time to cleanse your soul, refresh it, love life again, and when you do… you AND the world will be a different place!