“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau
Lately I’ve noticed how often people ask me if I’m staying busy. I’ve also noticed that if I give some sort of affirmative response, the typical reply is usually along the lines of “that’s good to hear.”
Now I recognize that for some people asking the “stayin’ busy?” question may not be much different from asking “how’s it going?” It’s much more of a greeting than a legitimate probe.
Perhaps for others they are genuinely worried that, with time on my hands, I may get into all sorts of trouble. Let’s be honest, faced with idle time, I haven’t always made the best choices. Yet I know my reactivity goes deeper.
I know there have been times that I have measured my success–and some might say my worth–by the fullness of my calendar, how long my to-do list was and how frenzied I became moving from one task or meeting to the next.
There have been many occasions when I have confused activity with progress.
All too often, I have allowed the urgent to crowd out the important.
I have soothed my fear of tackling the hard, uncomfortable work by filling my day with the easy and the meaningless.
I have made perceived obligations the antidote to intentionality.
More times than I’d like to admit, I have let my addiction to busyness get in the way of fully embracing the purposeful and the impactful.
So the next time someone asks me if I’m “stayin’ busy” my answer might be “yes” “no” or “kind of.”
But regardless of my particular answer on that particular day, I hope deep down I can honestly say to myself “but that’s not the point.”