Friday, October 4, 2013

Fabulous Friday

The last few weeks have been kind of a blur of craziness, and, frankly, that whirlwind won't really end until Thanksgiving time. I am continuing to ride the wave. But, it has gotten me thinking about the choices we all make in life. It feels like stress is in the air these days. My colleagues are stressed. My family is stressed. I'm stressed. And it seems like everyone is more stressed than usual. I wonder why that is.

I find it interesting that when I'm stressed, I don't always make my own life easier.  Even on days when I know I'm going to have to go home to a lot of work, and I have dinner plans (because one must have a social life, right?), and I'm tired because, well, I'm growing a baby, here, I decide that I have to fit in a workout, and I have to blow dry my hair (and straighten it), and I have to write a really epically long (did you see yesterday!) blog post because that makes sense, right? That's what productive, driven people do, right? 

I find myself thinking about all the things I could do to better utilize my time, to maximize my output, to be better, and faster, and fitter, and more productive, and then sometimes I think that I just need to cut myself a little slack. But, not being busy feels a little bit dangerous. In his article "The 'Busy' Trap," Tim Kreider says, "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 think sometimes I am afraid of what people will think of me if I make the choice not to be busy. 

I am surrounded by people who push themselves to their limits all the time. Kids, adults, colleagues, my parents. All of them burn the candle at both end. My parents are working more than they ever have. They are epically stressed. My students are basically in turbo mode at all times. My colleagues can't seem to give enough of themselves. And, I admire each one of those people. I feel impressed and awed by all that they accomplish and do on a daily basis. But, I also value quiet time, peaceful time, time spent pursuing my interests, or frittering around with a friend, or talking on the phone to my sister. None of these things makes me income. None of these things goes on a resume, but each of these things improves the quality of the one and only life I have. Kreider writes, and I feel like this speaks to my life as well, "I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love."

When we are busy, maybe we feel accomplished. Maybe we feel like we are making the most of our talents, and our resources, and our potential. Maybe we feel like we are becoming successful. Maybe we feel important. But, at the end of the day, the work that needs to get done will get done whether I spin myself into a frenzy or not. I can chose to be busy, or I can chose to be sane. There is no getting around the fact that I have a demanding job. But, the way I approach that job and that work is completely within my control. If I could take a job that paid more but that would prevent me from taking my frequent trips to see my family, from having summertime to read and write and sit by the ocean, I don't think I'd want it. And, I also don't think that makes me lazy or unsuccessful. But, sometimes it's hard to really believe that, to remember it. There is guilt associated with not being busy and with not wanting to be.

So, lest this become more of a Monday Musing than a Fabulous Friday, I just want to say that I am truly grateful that there is nothing much on the agenda this weekend. I plan to be decidedly un-busy. And being able to chose that, to own it, and to enjoy it, is all the fabulous I need.


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