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The Glorification of BUSY

Carla Birnberg

Posted on September 15 2014

Decades ago, I learned a lesson which has served me well ever since. It was circa 1994 and I'd recently opened my boutique personal training studio.

I was excited. I was terrified. I was eager to train seven days a week, all hours of the day.
I had a loan to repay and rent to pay.

I was young, energetic and willing to do whatever it took to make my business a success.

One afternoon, I had a consultation with the superintendent of our school district. "I'm very busy, " she informed me.
"I don't doubt it," I responded.

"I get up at 5:00a every single morning." She instructed me. "I have really busy days."
"I can imagine," I told her. "I can meet you here at 5:00 am if you'd like!"

There was a long silence on her end after which she mumbled. "Um. No. Let's do 730am."
Each session, without fail, she'd dash in late having just woken up. That interaction stuck with me as it was my first experience with the glorification of BUSY.

What a badge of honor it was to claim little sleep and lack of time.

Close to twenty years later, I've resisted the glorification of the busy.  I rise at 4am each day, but less than a badge of honor,  it's a way for me to have it all  (or, more aptly put, want the all that I have.).
Sure, when asked, I share I wake sans-alarm.  I never intimate this is better than another mother's waking at seven.  I don't love waking so early to work----it's just what I do.  Right now. 

Lately, the BUSY has crept into my life in a fashion I don't enjoy. 
I say "yes" to monkey bars and kickball, yet in the back of my mind runs a constant list of what else needs to be done.
The BUSY which waits for me after I'm finished: The laundry. The grocery. • The writing. The tweeting. • The volunteering. The mother/daughter book clubbing.

The stuff which comes together to weave the BUSY fabric of my life. The busy of all of our lives.
The BUSY which invariably seems to become a source of comparison among us.

Recently at a party,  I overheard a woman asked what she did in her free time. "What free time? Who has any?" was her tossed-off response.

I knew what she meant: work & children ate up all of her extra moments, yet the comment made me profoundly sad. The underlying message returned to the glorification of the busy.
Lack of hobbies was a badge of honor for which she anticipated murmurs of admiration.

I've begun to reexamine my own BUSY,  to tease it apart and challenge myself.  How much of it is my own creation and how much is the necessary BUSY of life?

I'm striving to glorify the DE-busification of life. I'm applauding those whose lives are by choice "slow," as I work to carve my own slower path.

On a recent trip home from NYC with my daugter, I was excited to learn there was wifi on our 6-hour flight home. I was behind in work & the pressure of the BUSY felt as though it could be lessened by a marathon, in-flight work session.

The wifi wasn't working so I spent most of the six hours simply sitting and holding my daughter’s hand. I exited the plane feeling more relaxed than I had in ages.

And re-committed to striving to stop the glorification of the BUSY.

And you?
Do you find the constant glorification of BUSY exhausting?
As our lives seem to only get more hectic---do you think the notion of BUSY as  a BADGE OF HONOR will ever change?

 

Photo credit: Nathan Hall

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