Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why Are We So Busy?

Photo Credit: Who's the Boss by Alex E. Proimos



I seldom meet anyone who says they have too much time on their hands. When I do, they are usually disabled by injury, disease, or age related deterioration. They are physically or mentally unable to "stay busy".

Busy people almost always seem to believe that their busy schedules have been forced upon them. "Things are crazy right now" they may say. They talk about bosses, spouses, or kids who have loaded them with obligations. "I have too much on my plate" .

I find it strange that such busy people find time to watch a lot of television. They cruise the Internet. They have time to stand in a hallway or a street corner and talk at length about their busy schedule. These same people play games or watch games. They buy new music to listen too and books to read. They frequent craft stores or hobby shops seeking new projects. These same busy people go to movies, go window shopping, and camp, fish, or boat.

Yes, people work and take care of chores. The work allows them to own the TVs, pursue the hobbies, or buy the music. The money they earn enables them to buy houses and cars which require maintenance or inspire embellishments as varied as patios, wallpaper, or chrome plated wheels.

It is hard for me to believe, but I am sure that it is true: we want to be busy. We make choices that will ensure that we are busy. Although we say that we long for "down time", when we get that time, we are anxious until we find something to fill it. A trip. A puzzle book. A phone call.

I am speaking of American culture, which I know well. I have seen evidence of the same in parts of Europe and Asia. There may be cultures that have tranquillity and rest at their core, but I have not experienced them.

We choose to be busy, even as we complain about our busyness. We consistently err on the side of scheduling too many activities rather than too few.

Why?

At most, I can speak for myself. I am aware of a fear that my life has little significance. I harbor the suspicion that many others are making better use of their time. When I load up my schedule, it is a futile attempt to assuage anxiety about who I am and what I have accomplished.

Alternatives are available. I seek to spend more time listening to others. I also hope to quiet myself enough to hear the still, small voice of God. As I focus on others and trust God, the anxiety lessens.

We have come to revere folks who can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. And those folks are non existent. It would be the equivalent of reaching down and pulling both my feet off the ground. Try as hard as I might, I will never move even a fraction of an inch higher.

However, I perceive that it could keep me very busy.
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