“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau
I never liked the word ‘busy’. I particularly started disliking it when it seemed to be the only correct answer to the question ‘How’s things at work?’ If your reply isn’t an immediate ‘you know, busy’ then immediately something is wrong with you.
Well I for one love to reply: ‘it’s brilliant, absolutely perfect.’ It’s great to see people’s expression change to ‘confused’. It’s even better if they follow with a ‘not too busy then?’ and I reply ‘nope, not at all, thank you.’ Really, try it, you’ll see what I mean.
I am not sure when we decided that being busy is what life is all about and that if you’re not busy then something’s wrong with you, but I think that is wrong. I think ‘being busy’ is the problem. We live in a society where if someone is in a park bench alone looking at the view he/she must be a psycho or probably contemplating suicide; where people who stop to actually ‘smell the roses’ are weirdos, and GOD FORBID someone dares sitting by him/herself at a restaurant with NO PHONE! We have reached a point where being just with ourselves is a bad thing. Congratulations society: you are busy.
But in my head it still makes no sense. Not that people feel the need to be busy, but to be busy about completely random things that contribute at nothing, or close to nothing, to our happiness. Sure thing, there’s being busy for survival, that’s different, that’s instinct and all animals have it. But busy for busy sake? Doesn’t really make much sense. Let’s think about this for a second; no other animal on Planet Earth has this problem. Tigers: hunt, eat, sleep, and just lay around when they’re not feeling like doing any of this. Many other felines: dido. Fish: poo/wee, hunt &/or eat, sleep (do fish sleep?), reproduce, but mostly just swim around. Elephants: eat, poo, mostly like to walk around and to play in the water. Sheep: eat grass, do what the dog says, lay around. There’s insects, OK, I’ll grant you that. Insects are always busy. But their busy surviving, making sure the species will go on (clearly I am no animal expert but you get the point). Surely we are not worried about the species survival, I am pretty sure we got that covered for now (that is until all the bad stuff we’ve been doing to the planet gets back to us. Karma). So, as Thoreau put it, ‘what are we busy about?’
Most of the time people don’t even want to think about it too much. Because the fact is, if you really look into it, you may be scared of the answer. Most of the time the answer isn’t remotely close to ‘to be happy’. Nope, it’s just because ‘that’s how it is’.
Well I think that’s wrong. I think that as Neanderthals before us, we should all look for some non-busy time in our caves (or wherever). Or at least make sure our busy time is worth the busyness… because one thing is for sure: that time won’t come back to us.
The funniest thing is, if you try to claim your time, to have ‘me time’, you know, if you quit a job that demands too much of you or decide to take a break for whatever reason, you are deemed as ‘crazy’, ‘lazy’, ‘weirdo’. If you’re a woman you may get the oh-so-fashionable label ‘lady at leisure’. But the more I think about it the more I wonder: if we were to all just stop from time to time, to think about what we are doing and why, then maybe the world would be a better place. Because by giving zero F*@ks about what really isn’t a big deal, maybe we would open our eyes to everything that actually could be? And that could only make us better people… right?
So let’s try it. Try to answer the question: ‘what am I busy about?’ But be real about it, think really hard. Is it something that is worth all the time you are wasting? Then brilliant. If not, then maybe stop. Stop and think about what you need, what you want, and what would make you happy. Give zero f*&ks about others and others’ expectations of you, and for just this once think about what you want. And trust me, whatever it is, don’t feel like you have to be busy about it. It’s OK to slow down. It really is. And far more enjoyable.