Finding balance around busyness
Before I begin, I just want to make it abundantly clear that I love my Dad and we have an amazing relationship, I do with all my family. And that this post is not a criticism, as I know his work ethic is a product of his own upbringing in which he didn’t have the freedoms his efforts have allowed me.
As I sit in my car, welcoming warm light on my chilled face, giving me life after diving into the ocean out here on this sunny winter's day, I’m left reflecting on what in me is actively avoiding being proactive and engaged fully with life.
I’m reminded of my Dad’s incessant need to keep ticking off a never-ending list of tasks. The “busyness trap” they call it. From his perspective I understand it. He wanted his family to have the best life possible, good food, a range of experiences and a quality education, but as a child, unable to apply this logic, I often saw someone who prioritised work over family.
It’s a common occurrence, especially in my parent’s generation. I think priorities in life have shifted a lot in our generation (people in our 30s), as a result of witnessing how our parent’s priorities influenced their lives. Thankfully he has slowed down a little in recent years. Of course, there is a multitude of external factors which create a belief system, but you get the idea.
“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” ― Lin Yutang
I think the glorification of “busyness” is a tradesperson thing too. Ever go to a cafe and overhear two tradies discussing how much work they’ve got on.
“How are you going, mate?”
“Yeah, busy as mate, you?”
“Oh yeah mate, so busy, all over the place”
“Yeah good on you mate”
Recently I overheard one of these conversations with two strangers, and I interjected with “so are you being just busy or are you productive?”, probably not my best move, and I was given a look like I’d just spat in his mocha but I thought it was funny. I think it’s an important differentiation to make. Being busy does not equate to productivity. It's easy to run around like an apprentice packing up when he’s been told he can finish when the site’s clear, but that doesn’t mean the necessary tasks are being completed.
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ― Henry David Thoreau
For the longest time, I’ve been trying to pursue my interests or personal goals and found myself losing motivation or focus. With this in mind, I’ve been reflecting on my often active avoidance of creating structure/routines in order to be more productive and do things like exercise and write more, even though I know the process would be beneficial. Unfortunately, this avoidance of being busy has also meant I don’t actively pursue things as much as I should. It’s made me passive in a number of areas in my life. Instead of creating, I wait for the right conditions, or the opportunity to present itself, and as Alan Cohen says “ Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect”
In the spiritual community, there is a somewhat toxic interpretation of how to “manifest”. Some people will have you believe that you don’t need to do anything and that you will get where you need to be. It sounds idyllic but for someone like myself, it’s just an excuse to avoid taking action when required. Those I know who have “manifested” their dream have done it through commitment and perseverance, and often they have excelled beyond their ambitions, but they have done so by putting in the work. To a certain extent, I think the statement is true, you probably can achieve all that’s necessary to exist by remaining passive, but if you want to truly live, I believe that requires inspired action. There is a concept in yoga of soft action. Holding poses, actively engaging muscles, feeling into them, but not forcing your body, and I think the same applies in life. Being active, but with a gentleness that allows for space for the universe to assist you.
“Inspiration is a spark. It is nothing unless we use it to build a fire.” – Vironika Tugaleva
There is a need in my life to find a balance, a place where I put those things which matter most to me first, without waiting for something to happen or pushing too hard in one area. Pushing myself when necessary while still softening to allow the universe to conspire with me.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”― Paulo Coelho
Last week I saw the analytics of my website for the last few months, after not posting for a long time, and felt physically sick. It is so important to me to share my ideas and experiences, it helps me develop my ideas, and I know others benefit from them too. Seeing the sharp decline made me realise I need to step away from this passivity. Of course, it’s easy to go the other way too, so I think the next obvious step is to make that damn daily planner.
As a footnote, I watched this great video on finding your passion which some of you may find useful too