April 4

Today's quotation:

Somewhere in the late 20th century we got the idea that busyness is a virtue.  We decided that the more activities we can squeeze into our lives, the happier we'll be.  What ultimately results, though, is physical and spiritual exhaustion.  We jump from one appointment to another, our body and mind racing.  We schedule events back to back and overlapping, with no time to rest or reflect.  And when we're in one activity, we're either distracted with the thing we've just done or the thing that's coming up.  It's not a good way to live.

Jack Zavada

Today's Meditation:

I like being busy, much of the time.  When I'm busy, I feel productive, time flows very smoothly, and I don't have a chance to waste time doing silly things, which I sometimes do.  But I like being busy only sometimes, not all the time, and in our society today we seem to value being busy ALL the time, no matter which other aspects of our lives suffer because of it.  We don't give ourselves a chance to slow down and reflect because we don't have time for it, and that's a dangerous route to walk.

There have been times when I've been exceedingly busy-- during the Gulf War when I was in the Army, and teaching high school and coaching three sports in high school, for example.  During the war, I had no choice--we did twelve-hour shifts six days a week, and there was no choice about it.  And I can guarantee you that almost nothing else in my life was addressed during those months.  When I taught high school, I was busy on purpose, because I wanted to contribute--but I also knew that down time would be coming soon in the form of a break or vacation.

I think that the most important thing to keep in mind about being too busy is that it's almost always OUR choice.  We can blame it on the job, but if the job is affecting other aspects of our lives, perhaps it's time to revisit our contract or look for new work.  We can blame it on family, but I know many families in which the kids participate in three or four activities each, and need to be shuttled constantly from place to place, leaving both the parents and the kids exhausted.  We can schedule down time with our families, and cut out many of the obligations and responsibilities, and everyone would actually benefit from us doing so.

I believe that busyness is in many ways a form of delusion:  the busier we are, the more we're getting done.  In fact, the people who have balance between busyness and time for relaxing and reflecting are the ones who get things done well, with enduring results, rather than running around doing less-than-stellar work because there just isn't time.

Questions to consider:

How does being super-busy benefit anyone?

How many people do you know whom you would consider to be "too busy"?  What would you recommend to them?

Why are so many of us so busy these days?

For further thought:

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

Thomas Merton
  

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