“How are things? Busy?”
And we feel proud. Oh yes we do, owning that state through as if its some badge of honour, validating our place in society. A true hustler, a successful person. Doing something, going places. We’re not pausing. We’re not dwelling. We’re not stuck.
Emails are flooding in by the dozen. Internet tabs infinite. Facebook likes keep pouring in - #winning.
Rushing from one meeting to another. Living life in the fast lane. Constantly troubled by a longing for the future, and weariness for the present. Lulling oneself into a trance of passivity.
Showing up for obligations, but being absent from ourselves. Mistaking the doing, for being. Living as if destined to live forever. Unable to notice how much time has passed, as one is too busy to even keep track of what day of the week it is. Unconsciously squandering time as though one has been gifted with the free refill deal at the checkout.
And what do we do to manage this badge of honour? Create schedules - defending from uncertainty and whim. A mock-up for reason, creating order. A haven set into the wreck of time. A lifeboat on which one is safe and sound.
Yet don't you dare rock that boat for me.
As noted by Yuval Noah Harari, “consistency is the playground of dull minds”. A mindset prioritising productivity over purpose. Net worth over self worth. A long life over a deep life.
The cult of productivity holds a right space if approached with clarity, awareness and purpose. Yet seemingly worshipping it at its altar on a daily basis blurs oneself of the very capacity for what it truly means to be alive.
In this obsession with optimising and maximising productivity we’ve seemingly forgotten how to be truly present. In a space of stillness. Where one can venture inward. Where to? Who knows. But more importantly, who cares?
Instead of trying to actively force ideas out, let those fragments of your experience float around your unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Allowing one to be mindful, yet focused - in a state of flow.
As noted by Seneca, "life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is spent on no good activity, we are forced by deaths final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.So it is: we are not given a short life, but we make it short. We are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it. Life is long if you know how to use it.”
Busy is a decision. A mindset. A choice. So in an age of acceleration, ironically nothing could be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing could be more luxurious as paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is as urgent as just sitting still.