Define Busy

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Socrates

The other day I met up with some friends who spent a considerable amount of time discussing how busy they were.  It became a competition.  Who was the busiest?  I even found myself contributing to this jumble of “busies.” In the end, I really didn’t know how much actual communication had taken place.  That is, until I realized that messages were scattered in between our “busy lists.”

Busy is defined as being engaged in an activity such as work or a pastime.  For most of us, busy is the opposite of leisure.  If you aren’t busy, then you are not engaged in any activity.  You can see how our minds can play tricks with this idea.   If you aren’t busy, then something must be wrong. If you aren’t busy, you aren’t working.  If you aren’t busy, you’re lazy…and so on and so forth.

It seems that busy equals:  activity that can be quantified, visualized and have a tangible outcome.  And this is when the definition of “busy” becomes interesting.  Here are some scenarios that I have come across in the past.

  • “I’m so busy with my children – the music lessons, art classes, soccer practices and dental appointments.  Every morning I pack them a nutritious lunch – you know, with multigrain bread and carrot sticks.”  Translation: I am a good mother.
  • “I have so many work projects that I am having difficulty with my work-life balance.  Everyone is calling me to be on a committee and I just can’t say “no.”   Translation: I am an indispensable employee and everyone depends on me.  I am important.
  • “The weekends are so busy.  I’ve been invited to two parties on Saturday and now some other friends have invited me to go to a concert.  I can’t decide what to do.”  Translation:  I am popular.
  • “I didn’t get anything done today so my day has been a waste.”  Translation:  I define my life and happiness by the amount that I accomplish.

Being busy is a good idea, but it should not be used to define or justify who we are.  Our existence is much more than a series of activities.  In fact, it is in the moments of solitude and yes, leisure, that creativity has a chance to thrive and prosper.  Instead of reciting a list of what we have or have not done today, become busy with living.

I am heading out to Granville Market…without a list….

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Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.