Busyness-The New Spirituality
As we write this message this morning, we’ve already taken a swim. It’s a massively hot day here in the northeast U.S. and temperatures are approaching 100 degrees. It’s been in the 90’s, without relenting, for the past week. We’re writing in our bare feet, with the Wimbledon semi-finals playing in the background and we plan on swimming again after lunch. Together we’ve already counseled a young man over the phone. We’re awaiting another call to talk with someone with whom we regularly check in. We’ve discussed a problem situation and some solutions for an organization in our area. And we have a lot of planning work and other decisions to make yet today. But we are committed to having fun while we do it.
The work that we do, the issues that we talk about with so many others, and the counseling that we provide, if we are not careful, can take a heavy and debilitating toll on us. And that’s why we have resolved together to always build in time on any given work day to swim, to bike, to hike, to run, to work out, to laugh and to unburden ourselves of the many burdens we try to help others carry.
We live in a culture that glorifies busyness and productivity and equates the two as synonymous with the other. That isn’t the case. All busyness does not equate to productivity. In fact, there reaches a point of diminishing returns. When we are so scheduled and programmed that we are out of balance we actually produce less, or at least work of a lesser quality, when we are so tired and overworked that we do not have time to think or to be restored.
So, why are we so busy? What is that all about? What are running from? What are we running to with our busyness? What are we trying to prove – to ourselves and to the rest of the world?
We believe Tim Kreider’s opinion piece in this past Sunday’s New York Times is on to something when he writes that … Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness. We see it all the time. People are afraid that their lives don’t matter, that they are not important, that they have nothing or little offer, that their existence is without meaning. And they try to fill that emptiness with things and activities that are ultimately empty in themselves – hoping that others will notice them. We have been guilty of this at times too, at thinking that we must justify our time, who we are and what we do.
Life is about finding balance. Work is important. Work is essential. We both love to work and we love the work we do. And we work hard at it – at being the best counselors and encouragers and writers that we can be. But we also know that we cannot be at our best if we do not have the ability to balance that work and those responsibilities with moments of pure fun, of respite or rejuvenation and of restoration. Those balanced moments give us the strength and the wisdom and the time to be open to the insights we need in order to provide care and guidance and hope – and balance – to everyone one else we meet.