We hear it all the time. Chances are we say it all the time.
I swear (hah!) it’s the curse of our era.
What’s up with you?
How are the kids?
What was your vacation like?
What’s next week like for you?
We are busy, pulled in so many directions that we don’t have words powerful enough to describe how time starved we feel. Swamped, hectic, rushed, hurried, slammed, or crazy busy can’t come close.
I suspect that we aren’t busier, in terms of obligations using up our time, than someone our age might have been 100 years ago. Chances are those folks kept the house warm with coal shoveled into a furnace; worked long hours for poor pay in factories, mines, slaughterhouses or worse; traveled at low speeds to get where they were going; struggled to stay healthy in a population easily ravaged by flu, tuberculosis, polio, and other diseases; and put a lot of hands-on hours looking after their homes and families. Talk about busy.
But there’s something going on, because so many of us are constantly overwhelmed. I planned to have some handy studies to cite but the books I meant to consult, The Distraction Addiction and Time Warped were overdue before I’d gotten more than a few chapters in. (Partially the fault of more alluring library books like Someone, The Name of the Wind, And the Mountains Echoed.) And I was busy!
Since the sun’s magnetic field is about to flip, I’d be happy to blame our time hunger on a wavering magnetic sheet and extra cosmic rays but science tells us there’s not a noticeable effect.
Mostly, I’m tempted to point the finger at all those things fracturing our attention. I’m pretty sure that ample time for daydreaming and contemplation is essential to a sense of peace, no matter what’s going on in our lives.
Which gets me back to the curse word of our times, busy. I’ve decided that using it is a form of negative self-talk. So I’m not saying it anymore. It is banished from my vocabulary.
My friend Margaret is sure that our perception of time will slow down to a more manageable pace if we replace frantically busy words with words that describe a slower, more relaxed attitude. Maybe then our lives will slow down too. She suggests words like,
You may be flinging yourself from store to store to get errands done. But consider describing it to yourself as strolling through stores, pondering some purchases, relaxing in check-out lines. A time-shifting may just happen.
But give that attitude shift time, lots of room-to-stretch time.