choices, friendship, time, to-do lists

Leap: “Busy” is a State You Choose

Does your calendar make you feel like this? From Pinterest.

I recently had an odd turn with a friend and her frantically busy calendar.

She wanted to introduce me to someone and thought a brunch was the best way to do it. After tentatively choosing a date to run by the person she wanted me to meet, I didn’t hear back from her for over 2 weeks so when another friend suggested getting together for that same day, I took her up on the offer. I figured something must have gone awry with the brunch. My friend constantly tells me how “busy” she is and her busy-ness must have gotten the best of her this time.

When she finally did get back to me 2 days before the brunch to say it was on, I had to tell her that I made other plans since I didn’t hear from her for 2 weeks. Her response? “I can’t believe you did that! I spent a lot of time organizing this brunch and quite frankly I could have put that time toward something more valuable. I am a very busy person and if you make plans with me you need to be mindful of that!” When I explained my thought process and apologized for not being able to make it, she blew up and several other nastygrams about how busy she is flew into my inbox. The intensity of her angry response was rather disturbing, and to be honest, weird.

That same day, my dear yogi friend Cyndie sent me this brilliant article – The Busy Trap by Tim Kreider. Sychronisity is a beautiful thing. I laughed out loud at his observations about the state of being busy, our simultaneous loathing and pursuit of it. He practically quotes word for word conversations I’ve had with friends about being busy. Tim talks about his decision to choose time over money, to decidedly be less busy for the sake of creating more space in his life. He also talks very honestly of having to give up friendships with people who just didn’t have time for friendship because they chose instead to be busy.

Leading a fulfilling life doesn’t require a calendar that’s filled to capacity. It is possible to be fulfilled without being completely full. And it is possible to be productive without being worn down. Being busy and being free are choices. We make them every day.

My friend relishes her packed calendar and she wants everyone to know it. It increases her self-worth to be constantly busy and rarely available, and that’s okay. It’s just not the way I wish to live, and like Tim, this is not the kind of thinking I value in others. So she went on her (busy) way, and I went mine. And I gained a valuable insight in the process: I’d rather have a life that’s rich with people I love and the time to see them rather than one overrun by to-do lists and back-to-back-to-back appointments. Time to make some room for, well, nothing in particular.