A while back, I found a New York Times piece by Tim Kreider called The ‘Busy’ Trap. In it, he described a phenomenon I'm sure you're familiar with...
"If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”
His writing, along with a catchy little pin via Jenn Gietzen inspired me to go on a little rant about how we all need to get off our high horse of busyness. And it was good for me to get that out of my system, but my study of busyness, and reflection on how it looks in my own life is far from over. I've read Kreider's article a few times over, and am continually struck with how close to home his words hit. He says that the people who tell you how busy they are, are typically people whose busyness is self imposed:
They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence...Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
Is that me? Am I trying to jam my life with activities, and duties, and work, and (say it with me....) all the things in order to escape my own emptiness?
Maybe. Maybe just a little. Maybe just a little, sometimes...
What am I afraid I might face in the absence of busyness? What would I hear if I stopped flooding my senses with places, people, tasks, and checkmarks? What might be waiting in the stillness that makes me nervous?
Am I fleeing boredom? Loneliness? Insignificance?
Uhhhhhh...probably. And more than likely, I'm also avoiding the things that don't come easily to me: Being quiet. Listening. Waiting. And overall not being in charge.
But the author reminds me, that "The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole." Yes. And the bible reminds me that God has not designed me for a life of endless toiling apart from Him:
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. Psalm 127:2 (NLT)
He will provide. He is enough. He is worthy of my time, and attention, and trust.
So as much as I am attached (addicted?) to the comfort and pride that come with the constant busyness, I'll look for opportunities to lay it down, and soak HIM up.