A couple of days ago I was in the corner store picking up some bits and pieces. As I wandered up to the counter I asked the assistant “have you had a busy day?”
She answered in the affirmative and we got into a pretty typical shop-counter conversation about how busy life is.
I bet you recognise that conversation. Lots of us have it, nearly every day.
Sometime over the last couple of years something has changed in our society. It’s subtle, but I wonder if it’s important.
We used to start conversations with something like “how are you?” or “are you well?”…..but now it’s “have you been busy?” or “do you have a busy weekend coming up?”.
Busyness is the new in thing.
The expectation when we ask that question is that we’ll hear back “yep, flat out”.
Busyness is the new fashion accessory…the “new black” if you like.
We pride ourselves on how busy we are. The one with the most full diary is the most worthy. The one with the most evening commitments, the busiest social calendar for the weekend, with the most extra-curricular activities for the kids….the busiest wins.
There’s very little in our society today (apart from our treatment of the vulnerable, or the ongoing ingrained sexism in our world….but they’re stories for another day) that are more damaging I think to families, and to individuals than this perpetual obsession with busyness.
The costs of busyness are high.
Physical tiredness, mental exhaustion, emotional strain, spiritual flat-ness, relational distance.
And a messy house…though maybe that’s just my house…I can’t be sure.
I wonder too – and I worry – about the kind of example we’re setting for our kids with this perpetual busyness.
I wonder if we should be striving really hard to keep lots of empty space in our home diaries, make sure there are afternoons when we just go for a walk around the neighbourhood then come home for a simple dinner and hang out. I wonder if we should prioritise the preservation of down-time on weekends rather than back-to-back-to-back social, sporting and other engagements.
I’m a big fan of couch time, or hammock time, or “promenade time” (as we used to call the kind of relaxed afternoon walk that we seem to preserve for holidays only) but it’s rare. I don’t even really like being busy…but it’s such a point of pride I can’t help getting sucked into it, and filling any empty moment with something planned.
What might happen if the next time someone asks “are you free Tuesday night?” I answer “No, I’m having some relax time with my family”?
And will it be weird if I ask the shop assistant when I next stop by “have you got a quiet afternoon ahead”?
So how about you?
Had a busy day?