Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yea, I'll be there! Oh, well, actually, I'm too busy

I struggle with busyness. Both in that I find myself running from one thing to the next, often without the time to catch up in between; and that I see the same thing all around me and I often wonder (when I do slow down), why are we so busy? Why, as a culture, are we so prone to overwork ourselves, so at-ease with rushing from place to place, from meeting to meeting, from party to party? Why is it, that more often than not, the feeling of saying "actually, I'm too busy for that" is accompanied by a tad of pride: thinking that since I'm busy, I'm important?

Americans (I should clarify - those of us who live in the US) work too much. We work more than just about every other country, and, I think more telling, we are less happy than most other 'developed' nations. Its weird that I feel like I have to justify myself when I say that I only work and average of 20 hours a week. I have to finish the sentence with the fact that I volunteer for my nonprofit anywhere between 10 and 30 hours a week. Even though my wage on 20 hours a week (combined with my wife's 24-36 hours) is plenty to pay the bills, I still feel as though I am lazy in other's eyes. I've hear this from full-time workers too. They say stuff like "I work full-time, usually at least 50 hours a week". Why? Does it improve their quality of life? Why is 40 hours not enough? Why is 30 hours not enough? 

What would happen if we started working less and building relationships with each other more. What if we, as a society, we said, "for the sake of the millions of people without a job, I'll work less, and share my responsibilities (and my wages), with others."? Would we find that we'd have to buy less? Probably. But perhaps we'd learn to enjoy life more without those things we can no longer buy. Perhaps we'd find a richer life in a 32 hour week than in a 40 or 50 hour week.

That's my challenge. Truly being content with just being. A wise character in a movie I saw recently (I won't mention that it was Jackie Chan in the new Karate Kid and that I REALLY liked it the movie...) said that "Being still and doing nothing are two very different things." I thought that was profound. I often get anxious when I have to sit still or not 'do anything'. But perhaps I would find it a worthier task to attempt to be still than to fill my time with 'doing stuff'. 

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