Well, one month of good intentions has passed by and no Ramblings from me. However, here we are again and I’m very challenged by a decision my wife has made for the next few weeks.
As you may know, and even take account of in your own lives, the period leading up to Easter, often called Lent, is for many people a period of giving something up. It can be a time of denying our own needs or pleasures, whilst reflecting upon the needs of others.
This year, my wife has decided she is going to give up ‘busyness’.
My mind reels at how we can do that: either we have things in our diaries or we don’t! I know, we can choose not to add extra things, but, I imagine, many would say that so much of that is outside our own control. At any rate, I asked her how she planned to do that. Her response was something along the lines of: ‘It’s not about how much I have to do, but the way in which I intend to approach what I have to do. I’m not going to be ‘busy’ about doing it, but to appreciate each moment for the gift it is.’
Now, if you know my wife and me, you will know that she has the capacity to appreciate life in the moment, whereas I am more inclined to analyse, evaluate or over-think much of what I do. So back to the commitment not to be busy…
For many years I have had a growing sense that, if there is an identifiable ‘sin’ of each age of human history, history may well judge that the ‘sin’ of this age is/was busyness.
We are so committed to doing so much. We are wrapped up in a world that has made almost anything we choose more accessible than at any time in the past. We have access to events around the world the moment they happen, and are challenged to engage with, at least intellectually, but often in practice, issues that past generations would have had no opportunity to know of let alone engage with.
We have multiple means of communication at our fingertips – smartphones, tablets, ultra-portable laptops, TV screens around (almost) every corner, radios in our cars; so many means of remaining in contact, but also the means of assaulting our senses with information overload.
And it is within such a context that we are challenged by the pressures of time, or more accurately, not enough time to accomplish all we think we need to do. The idea of just being, rather than doing, is almost a lost art, a lost concept.
The older I get the less sure I am of the value of all that we crowd into our lives, and yet the crowding continues for me, and I suspect for most of you. So how do we refuse to be busy?
I don’t think I have an answer, but I do have a few reflections:
- The clearer we are about what really matters to us, the more likely we are to prioritise effectively
- The capacity (or willingness) to listen to those closest to us, creates opportunity to see ourselves and our lives a little more objectively
- Our physical health may well flag up pointers to our mental, psychological and emotional health, if we are willing to listen
- A recognition that we are not indispensable, and life will go on without us, might help us to focus on the most worthwhile use of our time, rather than giving in to the demands of an ever-increasingly complex context that surrounds us
So, how do you, or will you, cope with or address busyness in your lives?
Rev Richard Johnston