She talked about her reading of The Lonely American by Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, and how often in our culture, busyness is associated with fulfillment; rather it is just a way that we are becoming more socially isolated from each other.
So naturally, I had to get the book (if you didn’t know I was a nerd already, there’s your evidence).
As I’ve been reading, I’ve really been taken with the fact that ‘busyness’ is a big part of my life – if I’m constantly moving from one task to another, I feel productive, and essentially, fulfilled, when really all I’m doing is missing out on critical social experience and interaction, and actively ignoring my personal limits.
“Talk to Americans about their lives and one thing you will hear over and over again is how busy most people feel. People complain about being too busy, but if you listen closely, you will hear that people are proud of their busyness. It serves as a badge of toughness, success, and importance. When most people talk about how busy they are, it is simultaneously a complaint and a boast […] The elevation of busyness itself to a virtue has had profound social consequences,” (p. 14-15).
While pondering on this idea, I happened upon this opinion piece in the New York Times.
It highlighted an important point: this busyness is self-imposed.
“The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. […] It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.” (par. 5).
And I know this kind of attitude and lifestyle is not easily amended, especially for someone like me; to me, a day is not complete without an exhaustively daunting to-do list of tasks or hours spent running from errand to errand. BUT I do think small goals can bring about a progressively better (and arguably healthier) quality of life as we sincerely strive to improve, as I’ve seen evidence in my own life.
So maybe we step away from our email for a few minutes to talk to roommates (or children, sisters/brothers,etc.) or perform a small act of kindness for someone else. Maybe we call a family member on the phone or write a letter. I sure don’t want “the cult of busyness” (Olds, p. 15) to hinder my health or relationships with others. I don’t want my life to be full of activities and tasks, but inherently empty of…life.
Just some food for thought.
(Nice tie in, eh??)