The business of being busy

Why are we all so god-damned busy?! I don’t mean jam-packed-but-organised-day kind of busy, I mean task-on-top-of-task-on-top-of-a-never-ending-to-do-list kind of busy. Maybe it’s just me but I struggle to remember the last time in my adult life post-university, where I lay around and let nothingness occupy my mind. The ‘good old days’ is what we call them now.

I am definitely part of the problem and not the solution, but I do wonder why we’re all so obsessed with filling our free time. I mean, who says that time is ever free anyway? It seems to pass with little consideration for us humans, as we drain our resources at work, drink away whatever energy we have left with after work drinks, and collapse in front of the TV as we let the static take over our exhausted minds.

Do we keep busy in an attempt to distract ourselves from the awareness of our small existence in the vastness of the universe? That sounds like something a philosopher would say, so go ahead and insert a relevant Kierkegaard/ Hegel/ Laing quote here (I know you’re impressed with my knowledge of philosophers, I learnt them during a very busy period in my life).

I guess the real question I should be asking is why am I always keeping busy? Quite simply it’s because it’s just what we city dwellers do. That’s not to say that people living in the country don’t also keep busy, but there’s so many ways to be busy in London that to opt out of engaging in these things is something only an alien would do. And even then, people assume that you must have some secret busy thing that you’re occupied with instead.

I often try to use being busy to my advantage, and have a number of activities that determine how possible or impossible it is to distract or interrupt me. Honestly, what is the point of being busy if it doesn’t help you get out of being busy doing other things that you enjoy less? Par exemple (we should all throw a bit of French into our speech from time to time I think):

I’m at work

I am 100% busy or at least I’m supposed to be, which basically means I’m too busy to take your call unless you’re a younger sibling, my best friend or you’re a relative and you’re dying at that  moment. I’m not heartless.

I’m out with friends

I’m like 95% busy, which again depends on who’s trying to reach me and interrupt my fun times. Parental figures tend to count this as not busy at all because you’re enjoying yourself (the thinking behind this being “What kind of person considers themselves busy if they’re not miserable about what they’re doing?”). Thus if I actually answer the phone, what often follows is a half hour conversation about “that meddling cousin of yours”. That’s the time I add “call back” to my list of things to do at a later date.

I’m studying

This hasn’t happened for a couple of years, but next to work it was one of the best reasons to say I was busy. Nine times out of ten in those situations I’m actually procrastinating my arse off by writing poetry, mini stories and lists of things to do before I die; rather than looking into the intricacies of the unconscious and my proclivity for procrastination, and what it tells me about my own unconscious mind. I have gradually become less of a fan of this kind of busy as I make the slow walk towards my eventual death. Aging is also time consuming.

I’m watching a television series on DVD or online

Yes I am busy and I do not appreciate your tone that suggests otherwise. Yes I can answer the phone and pause what I’m watching but that doesn’t mean that I should. I’m busy relaxing and this is extremely important to my mental and emotional wellbeing. Yes OK I’ll pause it.

Seeing therapy clients

I am 110% busy and my phone is not on and will remain off probably for the rest of the day. In what now feels like a recent but somehow previous life, this is what I was doing on the weekends (because apparently I just wasn’t busy enough) and it was universally understood as busy time that cannot be interrupted. It was such a good time.

Romantic/ Sexy times

Surprisingly (or perhaps not) I would say that I am 75% busy during these times. I am uninterruptible but I think that depends on who I’m with. I am now putting more effort into spending these times with people who I would willingly give work-level attention to, in the realm of being busy. It’s a work in progress though, so I’m trying to get busy with that one. Pun intended. You’re welcome.

Now as it turns out, I don’t really mind being busy. But I really mind having my busy interrupted, and have been going out of my way for some time now, to present valid reasons for not interacting with people when it isn’t on my own terms.

Wow, this explains so much.

I wonder if this is also the reason other Londoners keep so busy; to avoid dealing with people who always present emotional turmoil? Or even worse, remind you of your own feeble existence?

Well I think I’ve enlightened myself enough for one day. Here’s hoping this article kept you busy for five minutes, and if it didn’t,  how are you doing that not-being-busy thing and please can you share your secret with me?

 

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Maame Blue

Writer| Poet| Blogger| Ghanaian by heart, Londoner by nature

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