Recently I received a book in the mail, and there were several advertisements, including one for Audible that said, “No time to read? You need Audible”. Seriously? I had just ordered a book in the post, BUT it wasn’t the advertisement that truly offended me, what bugged me was the idea that I would have no time to read – I couldn’t find a few moments in the day to sit and read.
The idea of BUSYNESS has bugged me for quite some time now. I will admit that my week-days are particularly busy. I arrive at work at 7 am and most days I don’t get home until between 5 – 6 pm most days. Rarely is there a time during the day to sit and just read BUT my weekends are a different story and so are my weeknights. I will definitely make the time to read because reading is essential to me. It slows me down, it centres me and it relaxes me AND I take the time to read because I enjoy it. I will never be too busy to read.
BUT let’s get back to the idea of busyness. I hate that word. BUSYNESS. I hate people that tell me that they are TOO busy to read. People that tell me that they are too BUSY to go see a movie. Too BUSY to take time out for themselves. When did we become so obnoxious that we think being busy makes us important?
A couple of years ago I photocopied many of the above quote (that opens this blog) and placed them around my staffroom (before the first bell). When I went down to the staffroom at morning tea, all the posters had disappeared. I found this curious, so throughout the week, I would put the posters up and by the time I went back to the staffroom they had been removed. Apparently, someone was incredibly offended by this poster. Someone who equated their busyness with their worthiness??
Personally, I believe that BUSYNESS is used as a sense of entitlement or as something to hide behind. If I were to say that I couldn’t go to a party because I was busy, no one would bat an eyelid. If I was to say that I couldn’t go to the party because I didn’t want to, then everyone would be offended or everyone would try to change my mind. What’s the difference? Busyness is the greatest of all excuses. No one will even ask what you are busy doing; they will just accept that you are busy.
Today it would seem that if you have “nothing” to do on the weekend, then you are pitied, BUT no one pities the busy person. Instead, they are admired. We praise busyness. If someone comes into work for the whole weekend, they are respected, appreciated and prized. Why? Is this healthy? Are we giving our best to our students if we are spending our weekends at school working? Wouldn’t it be better to give ourselves some distance from school on the weekend and come to school on Monday feeling refreshed? Isn’t it better to show our students that we are well-rounded individuals with a life outside of school?
I believe that busy people choose to be busy because they are frightened. They are fearful of silence, solitude and idleness. They need to fill their lives with busyness, otherwise, what will they do? Lately, I have been leaving my phone at home when I go to do errands. This means that while I am waiting for my coffee or standing in a queue, I wait and stop and enjoy the small amount of time with my thoughts, or I look around and watch what is happening around me rather than mindlessly scrolling through my phone. It is kind of sad that people never look up and appreciate what is happening around them. It is unfortunate that a few minutes waiting for a coffee, or standing in a queue or waiting at a traffic light can’t be endured without a screen to stare into.
Why do we have so much less time today then our grandparents did fifty years ago? Do we have less time today than in previous years because we waste so much time scrolling through our phones, iPads, laptops? Is it because we binge watch television? If you were to put your devices away, what would you do? Try it and see how much time you get back for yourself.
Lately, I have been choosing to spend a day where I do “nothing”. I read. I sit on my couch and daydream. I watch television or a movie (but not six hours of bingeing, but rather an hour or two). I play with my dog. I sit on my deck and watch the birds. I go for walks with my dog. I sit in the park. I read a magazine. I read the newspapers. I avoid my phone and other technology that will distract me. I don’t do any work for school. These days are blissful. They restore me. They make me a better person.
Let’s stop being consumed by the busyness monster. Let’s stop thinking that being busy makes us important. Lets put away our devices and look around and enjoy and appreciate the world we inhabit. Let’s stop the “glorification of busy”.