Bitty recently posted on her Facebook page, “It’s not right to have to work on a beautiful summer day. I’ve never outgrown summer vacation.” She got a lot of responses from friends who feel the same way.
Now, it’s not like I have a slave-driving 9 to 5 job, but I still find myself lately having to drag myself to the computer to write. And since last week’s July 4th holiday, my summer doldrums have taken over until I’ve become whinier than an anthropomorphic Basset Hound.
This has all led me to wonder, What’s so great about being busy? Evidently, Bitty and I aren’t the only folks questioning this, as this opinion piece in the New York Times so brilliantly illuminates. Writer Tim Kreider freely admits, “I am the laziest ambitious person I know.” Well, you’ve got competition now, Tim.
Perhaps this is one reason I’ve long dreamed of being European. Six weeks of summer break as an adult? Sign me up. Close up business for the month of August and find the nearest beach? Bitty is so there.
And, if I can play devil’s advocate, what’s so great about being uber-busy anyway? Does it simply make us feel important? Lord knows, my ego grew to an unwieldy size when I was working in television flitting from audition to production job to audition. And when I think about how my ego has burst in the last few years, another thought immediately follows: “Aren’t you happier now that your time is (largely) your own?” Affirmative. As Mr. Kreider writes in his op ed, “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.” Touché.
Plus there is the very real health factor involved in too much busy-ness. Ask Bitty wrote about corporations pushing workers to the brink in this recession, claiming they should just “Be happy to have a job.” But as we’ve discussed in several Aging Gal posts and as Mr. Kreider so eloquently writes, “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”
This crisis of busy isn’t just happening to adults, we’re also passing it along to our kids. I tutor your high school students in the SAT/ACT and, trust me, they are much too busy mastering dance and lacrosse and AP exams and debate tournaments and a plethora of other enticing pre-college extracurriculars to, well, study their college entrance exams. Ironic, isn’t it?
So, ultimately, what is it all for, this busy life? More importantly, what is life for?
The answer to that question is, of course, up to each individual, but I happen to be very partial to Mr. Kreider’s answer: “I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love… Life is too short to be busy.”