If you got that quote, Bravo! I’s been a staple of mine since childhood.
Reading an article called “The Busy Trap” from the NY Times got me thinking about being “busy” and what it all means. It is something that I have contemplated before but Tim Kreider was so concise about it.
“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.” – Tim Kreider, “The Busy Trap”, NY Times.
Exaclty Kreider! I have felt this way many a time. Sitting at work, inventing things to keep me busy. Why? What is the point of “busy work?” This is a challenging idea to think about. The work you do has no meaning. Truly. Emails, printing, phone calls, computer screens. How does any of that matter in a day? I particularly enjoyed the Richard Scarry reference. So true. We are largely a workforce that doesn’t do anything.
Time ago we were “busy” with daily living needs. Cooking and cleaning took time, as in serious time. Not only were you working but you really appreciated the product of that labor. I bet cake or bread that took the better part of a day to create was special and the person who made it felt pride and fulfillment because of the effort it took. Try getting that from the grocery store.
How many of us can say we feel fulfilled by running errands, answering emails or sitting at a desk alone searching the internet for something? Anything at times.
As Kreider says, “It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”
Alas and a lack. Check out the article here it really is worth the read.
And that Ladies and Gents is my rant of the day!