Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Too Busy ??

View in my side mirror at sunset

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Ginger posted a link on Facebook today to an article by Lynn Casteel Harper called “The Elimination of Busy: The Spiritual Discipline Of Being Present”. The author described how she aimed to remove the word busy from her vocabulary. She went on to say how we use the word busy as a badge of honour, how we need to be perceived as being busy even if we do not enjoy being busy. The article is worth reading in its entirety and excerpts below are in italics.

Our fixation on busy -- the ubiquity of keeping, staying, being, appearing busy -- seems to me a symptom of our societal obsession with productivity. If we are not always and forever productive (usually measured in economic terms), then we risk a societal demotion.

Busy often becomes an excuse, a cop-out, a matter of pride, a barrier to forging meaningful relationships, and a vantage point from which we judge others who are not as busy as we are. Busy people may not take time to observe, to listen or to reflect on events around them and often have difficulty choosing priorities in their lives.

Desert landscape near San Pedro, Coahuila MX

During my recent visit to Mexico, I enjoyed a slowing of time. Each day seemed twice as long as my usual work days at home. Good holidays should be like that. Since returning home, time is once again flying by at double speed. The days are not long enough to complete my “to do” lists. In contrast, I work with patients who have a succession of endless days and nights with no “to do” lists at all.

“Those persons who fall outside the framework of busy -- those whose lives are not productive in the ways we often determine productivity -- are too readily devalued and pushed aside. I am thinking of persons with cognitive impairment, physical disabilities or who otherwise cannot endure busy-ness. Many older adults fall into one or more of these categories, which may help explain why ageism -- the systematic negative rendering of the old -- rears its ugly head too frequently. We disdain the seemingly unproductive, those whose being outstrips their doing."
The solution to our busy-ness comes first with recognizing our state. Many people fail to see that their self-worth is tied up in doing rather than being.  I stopped working for a time to stay at home with our young daughters and became over extended in church activities because others thought I had the time and I did not know how to say “No”. There is a danger in becoming bitter and resentful when we are too busy doing even good things for others.

I saved my Amaryllis bulbs from last year and planted them in a pot about a month ago. They have been slow to sprout and a couple of weeks ago I pulled one bulb out of the dirt to see if it had rooted. Sure enough, there was lots of growth below the surface but my impatience almost destroyed the roots which were there. Busy-ness can impede the growth of personal relationships which must be nurtured, not rushed. And in the end, is there anything more important on earth than our relationships with others?

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before starting his work, conquering the demands of his flesh and resisting the temptations of Satan. The 40 days of Lent allow us time to draw away the from the busy demands of our consumer society, to recognize our spiritual neediness and to build our relationship with God and mankind. Growth takes time and cannot be rushed.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
Psalm 139: 4-6 NLT


  1. Ruth, thank you.

    Mary (guilty of busy-ness)

  2. Great side-mirror shot of a Very dramatic sunset. Which looks exceedingly busy.

    I try not to do much busy during the winter to make up for the busy summer. Much easier to be in the Now when not always busy.

    Very thought provoking post.

  3. @Mary- I wrote this mostly for me, but it is easy for anyone to get on the same wheel.

    @Gaelyn- Yes, it was the busiest picture I had. And I took it when I was driving (bad habit). I envy your lifestyle.

  4. Just lovely Ruth and so true. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Knowing your limits and saying no are good things.

  6. Mexico Mom8:00 pm GMT-5

    When one feels younger on the inside and knows one is older on the outside, there are frustrations. A close brush with death helped me to set new attainable goals and accept that which I cannot save. The result is calmness and peace.
    You have helped me greatly with this.

  7. My favorite words on Ash Wednesday--during imposition of ashes: remember, oh man (or woman) that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.

  8. You can be very busy and yet never really accomplish much. It all depends on how you look at it. One person's "busy" is another's "slack-time". Reading keeps me busy at times. Alot depends on where you place things on the "importance scale".

    I find that my "free time" is not really at a premium and that if someone wants a piece of me, all they have to do is ask. Whereas a friend of mine is also a very busy person and if you want to arrange something with him, you have to order way in advance.

  9. Good points Dave. I think many people are busy, but your point about "importance" is valid. We can keep busy, but wise people always have time for what is important.

  10. Most people would laugh if I said I was busy! I have it pretty easy in the busy department I must say. When D died, life came to a screeching halt ... which is no starting to pick up some. But I find that I can't handle too much business. Perhaps I'm learning, slowly learning to be more of a Mary than a Martha.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.