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.

12 thoughts on “Define Busy

  1. In a day in London where its been 81 degrees going to the park, could really relate to what you are saying. It’s like the ability to know how to relax or flow is frowned on. Thank you for reminding us that relaxation, reflection is a sort of busy where you can take in impressions and keeps you open to recieve ideas. Thank you for the post.

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    • I have been thinking of London these past days!!! There is a vibrancy in your city – the parks, lakes, history, art and flowers!! Oh, the flowers. I agree with Samuel Johnson when he said: “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Thank you for your comments – very much appreciated.

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  2. Great timing. I just read a blog piece from the NY Times exploring the concept of busyness. One quote from it really struck me:
    “Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness.”
    Could that be true?

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    • Absolutely!! We need to redefine who we are so that our efforts resonate with our values and dreams. Buddha said, “Let your mind become clear like a still woodland pond.” Haven’t reached that point yet…but I think that is the true hedge against emptiness”
      Thanks for your comments!!

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    • I am honoured to accept your nomination!! I value your feedback, your encouragement and generosity! Your thoughtfulness reminds me of a quote by Henry Drummond (1851-1897) Scotland: “You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments that stand out are the moments when you have done things for others.”

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  3. So right … Enjoying life is not all about doing, doing, doing. Thanks for taking us along on your trip to Granville Market, looks like a lovely way to spend the day.

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    • You would love the fresh vegetables!!! Some call Granville Island the “stomach” of Vancouver. Thank you for your comments and for joining the conversation!

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  4. I’ve been catching up on your past posts and just love your writing style. I also love that you challenge your readers to think about how we define key terms in our lives. The fact that you do so with such grace and with the odd literary or philosophical quotation doesn’t hurt either 🙂

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    • Thank you so very much for your comments – you made my day. Many times in the past, I defined my personal value based on busyness or how much I accomplished in a given time period. It goes back to flawed reward systems that we construct for ourselves. The best value is to breathe!!! It keeps the oxygen flowing. Looking forward to our ongoing dialogue.

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