I read a very insightful article recently that being busy is a disease. I couldn't agree more. I once had a relationship with someone who was 'too busy'. I did not dare to phone because almost every sentence was preceded with "I am very busy today". I felt as if I was imposing, making demands, on someone important's time. I resorted to writing long emails which could be read when 'less busy' instead of the immediacy of a phone call or a late at night conversation, but that too became an imposition.
The verdant inner me, silenced, began to wither. I had become a casualty of this very modern disease called busy-ness. I don't think this person really knew me other than what I do - cook, do Bikram yoga, write business reports, make plans, drag my stroppy teenager to church. Yet there is so much more to me: the fire and the fury, the sensual woman who prefers making love to having sex, the 8 year old girl who loves being read to, the comedienne, the poet. Without all that richness, I was just a cardboard human, a service industry, a biological entity born to die.
Yet we are teaching our children to be busy. Busy-ness is good! It shows that we are moving forward (to a faster end?). It means that we will be first in the (meaningless) rat race. It means that we will win (a bag of sand which is your bones at death).
Sure, someone who is always running will achieve more trophies that looks good on the outside, be it exam results, a grand job title, a big house, something to talk about to acquaintances. But what about on the inside? The inside takes time to grow. If you don't water it and nurture it, the internal landscape is empty. And here's the piece: the inside bit is the real strength that drives people to make successful, happy lives whatever the outside (which we cannot control) looks like.
If you don't have the strong insides, what will sustain you when the outside falls apart?
One of the best achievements in my life is parenting. I would say it is my best achievement. I have raised children who are strong, beautiful and successful on the inside. I would not have managed it if I did not have a parenting partner who, in turn, has a wise mother who taught her son that Time is what we need to give our children most. Time to be kind, to listen to them, to walk by their side, to pass on good values that makes us people of depth.
My mother-in-law was a cleaner. She used to take her little boy to her cleaning jobs and he would help her. She would patiently talk to him, teach him things, in her gentle slow way. In turn, this boy grew up to be a very good father who gave his children the same gift. And this is he and our youngest child, walking on the beach. And guess what, this is their typical day. It is not always the beach; sometimes it is the football pitch. Sometimes, it is just walking down the road to get milk. Or the drive to school. He always made damn sure he had time for her and our other children because Time is the best be can give them.
In the words of Y.B. Yeats,
"It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield."
So if you are busy, busy, busy, how will you live with yourself when the external falls away, when the outside doesn't go according to your plan; and you come home to yourself to find nothing there, only darkness?
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