Friday, December 12, 2008

how do you define busy?

Since the contemplative retreat, the hours of the day have taken on a new feeling for me. I haven’t quite pinned it down, and don’t imagine that I will anytime soon. However, I am more conscious of the rhythms of the day and I find myself wondering how much I let them control me and how much I try to control them. One of my questions for the day was: “are you a chameleon--bending to my whim & demand?” My sense has been that day is chaotic, busy and it travels by too quickly. Is that true or is it my attitude…my whim? Day seems to be the point in time where I have been called to be most productive…at least in the world’s sense of the term.

I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding the word “busy”. We both have a strong reaction to it. I find myself really bucking up against it particularly during this holiday season. Everyone thinks you must be so busy. What in the world does that even mean? My hope and goal is to redefine what ‘busy’ means – at least for me. I am not sure if anyone else would care to join me, but what if instead of rushing from the next appointment or worrying about shopping for the perfect gift or doing any number of things that totally stress you out, busy looked something like this:
  • Sleeping a little later than usual and tending to your dreams. Feeling your body gently awaken in bed and noticing the stretch of your limbs and spine as they awaken.
  • Choosing to stay home in the evening and have soup and salad with your loved ones rather than rushing out the door for the next Christmas concert. Being busy with conversation and laughter rather than herding around with crowds.
  • Pausing in the middle of the day to read a novel and take a nap. Busying yourself with restorative yoga and moments with God.
  • Instead of giving into the huge to do list by your side, opting for a few moments of silence and an Advent reading at noon, because you slept a little later in the morning. ☺

What if busy looked like intentional movement and choice throughout the day? If we controlled busy rather than letting busy control us? What if we actually enjoyed this holiday season and took some time to wait as the Advent tradition suggests? What if busy looked like smiling at our neighbor, intently listening to the words of a holiday carol or simply watching the lights twinkle on the Christmas tree (perhaps a tree that someone else bought & decorated)? How might you change if you redefined busy? How might the world feel different?


Dianna Woolley said...

Your photo brought me "right there" - I missed taking that shot:)

Busy, you know how I feel about it - busy is not a way to define one's worth. My busy has included wrapping packages in the midst of "my gallery space" (the new name for my room) which made it more fun, trips to the post office (a final one I might add as far as gifts are concerned), putting more pages in my Book of Hours journal - completing the decoration of existing pages, exploring new blogsites, writing like crazy, painting and reading. Whew - sounds like busy-work but most of it I don't consider was that - most of it was just plain fun and I feel blessed to have had the time for it!

This post on busy-ness - a winner:)

Sorrow said...

Busy is a funky word in my world.
it can mean nothing
and everything.
When i tell someone i am busy with life.
That means i am living.
when i say I am just to busy,
that means i am taking care of "things" that need tending.
The most precious of all the things we have is time. because it is not a infinite commodity.
I have spent a lot of "time" on my blog lately, more than i normally do, but it has been both humbling
and living...
Ahh Lucy
you always pull such long winded answers from me...

Sue said...

I think often "busy" is just a way to make ourselves feel important. If we are rushing hither and yon, then we must be very important people, and the pull downwards towards feeling like there are large vacuums within us are quieted.

At least, that's my idea of busy. I dislike it very much indeed :)

Lurve that first pic. Is that in your loungeroom? It looks so cosy

Barbara said...

I want to chime in there with Sue. She is so right about how "busy" gives one the sense that one is indispensible, as if all that clutter matters.
I am no longer busy at all these days. The space that creates is a bit scary because I am so unused to it. But it is nice to have the time to BE with people.

Anonymous said...

I love the first picture also.
I think 'busy' is a state of mind, and sometimes we use it in the way Sue and Barbara mention.
I have friends who are way busier than I am in terms of what they get through each day, but approach life with a calm and measured mindset. They are relaxing to be around.
It's something to do with allowing a 'spaciousness' into our lives even if they are full of activity.
I'm not quite there yet...

Kate I said...

I too have an aversion to the word busy. As soon as I hear it I feel stressed! I heard something recently that said we always think we don't have enough time, when in reality all we really have is time. It's our's to choose how we wish to live it.

I find I get stressed overy "busyness" by not staying in the present but by looking ahead to all I have to "do". If I stay in the present while I "do" each thing, I find the gift in each activity, no matter what it is.

Putting this into practice is all new to me...I've just come to this epiphany in the last few months, at least experientally rather than intellectually...and it works, it really does.

Blessings to you Lucy, for asking the questions.

lucy said...

SS--yes, i know how you feel about busy. i love the fullness that you described in your comment...oh, that we could all see the "just plain fun" in our busyness!!

sorrow--i agree with you that busy can be such a "funky" word. there are so many attachments to you say, it "can mean nothing AND everything!"

sue--i think you nailed it with this line: "...often "busy" is just a way to make ourselves feel important." i am trying to learn how to feel important for myself without worrying what others will think about my inactivities :-)

nope--not my "lounge room". i wish! the photo was taken at st. andrew's house (the episcopal retreat center where i attended abbey of the arts contemplative retreat.)

barbara--excellent point that space can be scary!! and i love the focus on "being" whether it be with others or simply with ourselves.

tess--i love the feeling of spaciousness that you mention. some people seem "busy" all the time yet there is nothing to show for it other than frantic activity. it is really odd but the days that i allow myself to slow down are often the days that feel the most full...which is kind of what i think kate is pointing toward.

(btw--the bowl in the first photo was crafted by the lovely and multi-talented christine)

kate--you have described my journey/dilemma well. i love it when i remember to focus on the moment and find pleasure in the simplest (& often mundane) tasks such as washing dishes or walking to the bus stop. with that attitude, life does indeed become spacious and much more satisfying rather than stressful with a neverending to do list!

oh my, these comments are all so rich. thank every one of you for participating here!!! blessings!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bowl lucy, I may have to post a photo of it at my own site. :-)

Great post. I actually resist ever using the word busy. I try instead to describe my life as full. For me, the word "busy" evokes a mindless scurrying that I try hard not to enter into. So that even though my days are full of activity lately, they don't feel busy but profoundly intentional. And I welcome the full days ahead, full of rest, and walks, and snuggles with Tune. Full of friendship with you.