What is it with our constant need to be busy? Why do we complain about having ‘too many plans’- but the second one of them falls through we’re suddenly scrambling to find something else to do? And what exactly are we so busy doing?
Before we get into this, I have a confession to make: I love being busy. In fact, I love being busy so much that I don’t quite know what to do without it. If I’m not busy, I’m wishing I were busy, and if I’m not wishing I were busy, I’m putting plans in place that will (hopefully) make me busy.
One boyfriend once complained to me that I was so busy that he felt that he was the person I went to at the end of the day when I had finished seeing ‘people’ and ‘doing things’ (housewife syndrome anyone?). This was- and sometimes still is- the extent of my busy-ness.
I forgot to eat, scheduled thirty-minute slots with friends (shame on me) and would speed walk across town for no real purpose other than minimising time lost between activities. I think that’s probably the most embarrassing part. Have you ever seen someone speedwalk? It does not look nice – not even remotely – and my legs are nowhere near long enough to make it look like anything other than a fairly short person trying desperately to push their tiny leg span as far as it would take them.
Despite this fairly terrible admission, I still thrive off being busy. I love the feeling of being pushed to be at my most productive. But busy owns me. It controls me. My need, my desire for more pushes me to my limit. A limit I enjoy, but one that is still controlled by the B word.
There were times during the last few years when I completely depended on being busy. If I had no plans, or no people to see, I felt like the world didn’t want me. Sometimes, past flatmates would find me sitting in my room wrapped in a blanket on the brink of tears, while listening to a youtube playlist entitled ‘Moping Music’. This was the extent of my addiction. I listened to ‘Moping’ playlists, followed by wanted ‘Girl power : the second stage of moping’ playlists. All because I had to have plans.
All of this calls into question one thing: Why are we so busy? Why do we want to be? Why are we obsessed with having things to do, sometimes to the extent of insanity or serious personal life neglect?
One particularly apt quote comes to mind: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”. Thoreau had it completely right- what are we busy about? Why do we jump to schedule plans and appointments, why do we rush to pencil it all into that diary (or Icalendar) we can’t live without? Is it because it makes us feel important? Does society make business, and doing your job well – so well that you’re constantly sought after- look like a heroic, glorious thing? Why do we bow to this? And what for?
If you weren’t so busy, what would you do with today? What would you do with tomorrow? Tell me, because I’d like to know. Tell yourself, because perhaps you need to know, too.