Breaking the Busy Addiction

Are you busy? Yeah, I get it. 

You’re busy. She’s busy. He’s busy. We’re busy.

 

But, I’m not busy. 

I was busy.

 

In fact, I was busy along the lines of 1 Monday-Friday job, 1 startup business to grow, 4 weekly classes to teach plus a roster of private clients, a marriage to tend, friendships and family to nurture, and a city full of adventure to explore.

That was before.


Then, my life collapsed.

 

A proverbial wildfire took out my marriage, my job, my classes, and my home of 5 years in the space of 3 weeks.  My life as I came to expect it was burned to the ground. 

The recovery process is for another day. This is a story of overcoming my addiction to busy. 

Busy made me important. And busy made me valuable. If you wanted me for anything, you had to find space in my very busy schedule. I was important after all.  

And if I was that important, then I was successful. If I was successful, then I must be happy. 

Or so the thinking went. 

That was before the fire. 

Now, I see that all that busyness was my way of finding meaning. Despite all the yoga, meditation, mantras, walking, reading, and other soul cleansing practices – all which kept me sufficiently busy - I wasn’t connecting into myself in a way that made a real difference. Why? Because I was too busy to sustain any one thing for too long before I had to hurry off to the next very important thing. 

Spiritual epiphanies in tidy boxes - turns out - are not for me. 

  . . .

A funny thing happens when your life is burned to the ground. You suddenly don’t have much to do, and you’re not so important anymore. Happiness was an unknown entity. 

I was leveled by the shock and grief that took up residence for a good long stay. This pair was a quiet but insidious duo and occupied enough space in my day-to-day life that I no longer had room for lots of things that previously kept me busy. Things such as friendships that no longer nurtured me, obligations that felt rote or that were no longer working well, and belongings that had no purpose were cleared out. Even long held beliefs about myself and the world were subject to disposal – including my love affair with busyness.

Over time, grief and mourning grew tiresome. I kicked them out along with the rest. The space they occupied, newly vacated, remained. It was my decision what I would do with it. 

I could fill it with more stuff – or busyness–  or I could declare it sacred space.  

I chose the latter.  

It’s not always easy. Life does go on. Presidents are elected. Bills are paid. Homes decorated. Friendships born. I continue to struggle to find the right blend of space and action. With all things, there’s a balance to learn. But I’m no longer the ravenous busyness addict. I cherish long, quiet afternoons alone. And when I’m full, I love sharing and being present with whomever I’m with or whatever I’m doing. 

And when I get confused – which I inevitably do - I remember the sign that now hangs at the entrance of my soul:    

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”  - David Whyte

Amen, brother Whyte.