the death of busyness
Everybody’s busy these days: especially families. Where I’m from, trying to find dates to get two tribes together for a meal can be like trying to set up peace talks. Yet if I want to meet my web design guru or set up an interview for some article I need to write, then, sure; next week will more than likely be fine.
Remember the days when leisure time was a euphemism for boredom? Not any more. These days leisure time has got ambition. These days it’s got bite. These days leisure time has a plan to keep you busy.
I wonder why. I wonder how on earth we let this happen. I wonder why everyone seems to be bothered by it and yet I don’t know anyone who says they like it this way. We offer sympathy when told of anther person’s diary woes, colluding like addicts to downplay the seriousness of this state we’re in. Perhaps that’s it; we’re addicted to this pace of life.
But life is the wrong word to use. I came across a quote by a guy called Michael Oakeshott, in which he mentions the ‘deadliness of doing’, and it seems to me that he’s onto something. While we might hope that maintaining this hectic pace will pay dividends in the future, I have a hunch that there’s really no life to be found in the chaos. Or, at least, not as much as we hope.
Modern western living wants us numb. From childbirth to grief, depression to discomfort, we are taught that the best way forward is the one that causes us to feel the least. We outsource everything, from food prep to childcare, and I think that, as a result, we’re forgetting how to really live.
This applies to the way we use time. We seem allergic to boredom, as if to feel it would cause us to somehow lose power. Yet are we really that different from every other living thing on this planet? Weren’t we all made subject to the laws of time, finite, time-bound and created in harmony with other forces that ebb and flow, rest and grow?
In part, that’s why we moved house last summer. We left the town and headed to the country, to a place where the snow overrules our travel plans, where the solitary shop keeps office hours and the after school activity options number one. We’re not done with the busyness yet, not by any means, but gradually I have a sense what recovery might look like. Slowly it’s beginning to dawn on me that how we spend our time is a theological issue. How we use the hours which are ours to direct speaks volumes about what we believe to be true of God. How we rest determines how we act.
Years ago I remember hearing stories of inner city children being taken to the country and not knowing what a cow’s udders were for. Well, not that long after moving we had our own udder moment in the Borlase house. “I’m bored,” the eldest said one afternoon. “And it feels weird.”
- the death of busyness
- does charity need reinvention?
- social media, christianity and the whiff of hypocrisy (or why I get annoyed with christians on twitter and Facebook)
- Deciding Enough Is Enough
- the way the river flows