Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Unbusy Revolution

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

(Macbeth, Act 5: Sc. 5)

I am getting really sick of the word "busy". Too busy for this, too busy for that, sure am busy...out of my own mouth and everyone I know.

We are all so busy, aren't we?

Kids, work, housework, shopping, paperwork, appointments, errands, activities, social engagements etc. etc. etc. Especially us women, we are really busy. Hardly time to think straight. Not enough hours in the day. Certainly no time for ourselves. Always on the go. Gotta go. Running late. See you later. Busy, busy. Good bye.

I see this busy-ness becoming an excuse, an avoidance...a disease.

We hold it up like a badge of honour. I am busy, therefore I am. I am important, productive and ambitious. See how much I have to do? See how very vital I am? Being very busy is associated with a person having purpose and value, and good habits -like a strong work ethic. We feel compelled to keep busy, because what is the flip side? Lazy, purposeless...selfish?

I sometimes find myself using busy as a passive aggressive, all purpose ass-covering...or find it being used on me. I am so sorry, I am/was/will be way too busy for that. When what was really meant was "I forgot", or "I don't want to", or "I just don't care enough about that particular thing to prioritize it right now". "Busy" can be a too convenient, get out of jail free card, exempting us from telling our truth.

It also gives us an easy exemption from living our truth. There are many times when I distract myself with "busy". Usually because if I stop for too long, I'll have to think, and I'm not sure I'll be able to bear the conclusions I may come to, or bear feeling my feelings in an authentic moment...if I stop to think...and breathe. But how long can a person go on like that? Introspection and creativity become the casualties. Illness and stress the side effects.

I think a lot of people hide behind busy. Most people I know do, to one degree or another. I am not saying that they don't genuinely have a lot on their plates, they do. And they sure get a lot accomplished, but at what eventual price?


Pssst. I have a secret. Lean in...closer, closer...and I'll whisper it in your ear.

I am not that busy.

Shhhhhhh! O my goodness, don't tell anyone! They will publicly flog me, throw me in jail...or at the very least strip me of my membership in the Modern Motherhood Club.

Way back when I was just a kid in high school, I thought I was busy. I know, funny eh? But c'mon I had alotta stuff to do! That black lipstick wasn't just going to apply itself! When the DH and I were just the two of us, just a couple of DINKS, with cats and dogs and a rented acreage, then I thought we were really busy. Wow, no time for anything anymore, this adulthood gig really takes a lot out of you, and yes, please pass me another pint! Then we had kids. Infant twins with health problems, and a husband who was away more than half the time travelling for business. OK that was busy. (And if you are in that demographic, I am not really talking to you, you poor thing. Stop reading this. Go lie down, if you can.) But since then life has slowly, incrementally gotten more and more manageable, and now I know that I am not that busy.

Not too busy for reading. Not too busy for art. Not too busy for playtime. Not too busy for lazy, pajama days. Not too busy for sex. Not too busy for baking cookies. Not too busy for video games. Not too busy for hot baths...for prayer...for meditation...for a phone call to my sister...for a weekend away... for writing a story...for throwing a birthday party... There is a tonne of stuff that I am not too busy for...if I choose not to be...

The DH and I have been quietly staging our own unbusy revolution ever since those crazy years when the boys were really little. We do less. Less of the unimportant things (like housework, shopping and fulfilling social obligations), and more of the soul sustaining things that make us, us...individually and as a family. We guard our downtime and our creative time ferociously, they are priorities! We certainly aren't one of the most industrious families I know, nor the most organized...nor even the most kempt (my family room carpet, my poor family room carpet!), but we are one of the happiest.

Still lately, the balance has been creeping back towards too busy, and too much feeling worried about the things that don't get done, hence this whole blog post, hence me being sick of even the sound of the word.

"Full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing..." Signifying nothing.

The more I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, the guiltier I feel and the less I actually seem to get done in any meaningful, productive way. I rebel against the idea of a life busy with nothing! I want a rich, balanced life, full to bursting with the things that are dear to me and mine, with time spent wisely and consciously or even squandered with abandoned joy as I find that balance between the two...but not time slipping away unheeded as I busy, busy, busy myself to death.

So the Unbusy Revolution begins again today.

What is vital to me? What is extraneous? What will make me healthier, happier, stronger, and more me? And what can I let go in order to find the time for it? I am ready to be both more efficient and more at rest, and to make choices with my time that I am proud to claim, and that's what unbusy is going to be all about.


  1. great post! I will put my attention on un busy! : )

  2. Oh, Evangeline! This really hits home. We're lists-makers and in the past months the lists and the list making process has felt oppressive, absolutely squashing any hope of having fun, doing anything creative, rewarding, or renewing on the week end. And goodness, off work early enough to do anything other than eat, clean up, check on my online friends? Unthinkable! Even guilt inducing as I surf, read blogs, and explore online.

    Now as our daylight hours are shorter and shorter, I find the feeling of "lack" growing. How do I settle in to the shortness of the days and remember them in the context of those long summer days, the "abunance"?

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

    Sign me up for this revolution! I'm not quite sure of my personal declaration yet, but your second picture strikes me as a fantastic banner underwhich to ponder the questions, "what is vital to me?", what will make me healthier, happier, stronger, and more me?" And then to celebrate those answers and those choices.

    Thank you for sharing your introspection once again, and inspiring my own.

    What ever happend to that book "Simple Abundance"? Dig it out, dust it off, get some HELP with daily inspiration.
    Unsubscribe from flylady's twitter -- who cares if the ledge over the door hasn't been dusted this week.

  3. simple abundance is one of the best books out there for slowing down and noticing the priorities. thanks for the reminder - might have to dust it off and start reading it January 1 again! i still have the 2 discovery journals from the 90's I did when I first read it.

    And awesome post. Let the unbusy revolution begin!


  4. um, hello? the ironic bees up there? gorgeous. LOVE them!

  5. Viva La Revolucion!

    I hear you, and agree 100% The busier I am, the more I get wrong, the less me I become. I am going to start working on unbusy - as soon as I get back from dr. appts and errands, lol!

    And the bees, well they're the knees...

  6. @ La Dolce Vita Thanks! Yay for unbusy!

    @FoM I am also a card carrying member of List-makers anonymous. Lists, sub lists, separate notebooks for different categories of lists! I do like lists, I do need lists (ADHD!), but they do get opressive sometimes. I am so glad I've struck a chord. What can we strike off those lists? Hmmmm... And how can we NOT carry the guilt of the undone things back into downtime and playtime and arttime? I know I need to work on this. I am so glad I have some unbusy sisters ready to join the revolution too! :D

    @Leel and Mel thanks re: the bees! They're made with a stamp I carved awhile ago. I love bees. And yes, Viva le revolucion!!!

  7. tori amos has a song...

    Feeling radical in cotton
    Purified in my satin
    But the bomb of the season is
    The Velvet Revolution

    it's a soft kinda time o' year. blueberry tea mug nestled to the cheek kinda time. snuggie wildside kinda time.

  8. As part of my ongoing contribution to the Unbusy Revolution, I would like you to know that it is 9:04 pm on Sunday and I am STILL in my pyjamas! I spent the ENTIRE day in bed with my boyfriend watching TV (Coronation Street, Almost Famous and football.) and y'know. Other stuff.

    One small step for man...

  9. And I didn't even SHOWER or...or...or...BRUSH MY TEETH.

  10. "re: the bees! They're made with a stamp I carved awhile ago. I love bees. "

    Ha ha, do you get the irony of your unbusy involving a lovely blog, literary quotes, and adorable art created with a stamp you carved!!

    That's the best kind of busy, isn't it?

    I have that Shakespeare quote in my thoughts almost daily, it's one of my favorites, keeps me in my place, and perspective. Reading Steinbeck's Sound and Fury in 11th grade, then discovering the source quote was a revelation, yet I'm still learning.

    I keep coming back to this post and I'm wondering about hand carving some stamps of my own.... hubby woodworks for fun and was carving wood spirits for a while, and he has loads of scrap wood and too many tools. Any hints?

  11. You go K and Craig!! You two have got the spirit of unbusy down! I also didn't shower on Sunday! Worked on my art project all day, when I wasn't hangin' with my fellas. Felt damn good. :)

    And Mel the irony, o the irony! Totally. But you're right there's busy and then there's unbusy, doesn't necessarily mean doing nothing (although I am sure we could all use more of that!), but being busy with what you love as opposed to just "the sound and fury".

    Carving stamps=easy, but very satisfying. I watched some tutorial videos by Milliande and got a speedball stamp carving set. I can link you up, if you want. :)

  12. This is so awesome and so needed I can't even begin to praise it enough! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin