Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice. It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
It starts innocently. It’s just dinner…they won’t even miss you, and it’s only ONE dinner. That leaves 6 more.
Next it’s getting up early. Just an hour or 2. To fit it all in. You tell yourself: “I function better with a little less sleep anyway. All successful people get up early right?”
At first it feels good, it feels right, efficient, productive, getting it ALL done. Woot, look at you…doing the balance thing.
Then it’s Sunday afternoon. Just to put a dent in the week, to make it all smoother.
Then a couple of hours on Saturday morning. No big deal.
But then one night. You wake up in the dead of night. Wide awake.
And there he is, staring you right in the face, gripping you in his stronghold, glaring into your soul…he wants your whole life. Not just parts of it…but all of it, every last little shred.
In that dark moment you realize you have fallen for his tricks, his promises, his cachet….and busy is now the boss of you.
Busy is a bully. Busy wants to take over and tell you what to do. He wants you to submit to his demands without question. He wants you to believe he is more important than you. Busy does aim for quality in the minutes of your life…he cares only for sheer quantity and like a greedy landlord, he is ever demanding an increase.
Not only is busy is bully but he is a liar too. Some of his lies you may have heard include:
1. Busy is how to make a difference in the world
2. Busy will pay you back one day.
3. Busy excuses you from being present.
4. Busy has a higher purpose.
5. Busy has your best interests at heart.
6. Busy is a sign of toughness.
7. Busy wants to help you be “successful.”
8. Busy is the same as quality work.
9. Busy offers fulfillment.
10. Busy is for important people.
A quote from Chris Kennedy’s blog I read last year stayed with me and provides a good compass point:
If the president of the United States has figured out a way to be home most evenings by 6:30 to join his family, surely I (and those who work with me and have jobs like mine) can find new ways to be home for dinner a couple of nights a week. It is about choices and priorities.
Other people who have taken time to contemplate busy:
Tyler Ward: Busy isn’t respectable anymore