Why does everyone want to be busy?
You see it all the time: social media feeds flooded with pictures of this event and that outing, conversations hijacked by talk of how tiring it all is, countless plans forced off the rails by that four-letter word “busy.” The strangest part, though, is seeing how, for all of the complaining about it, no one seems to be doing anything to stop it or even tone it down a little. For some reason, it seems like we’re a society so drunk on competition that we not only put ourselves through the wringer in a contest to show who’s the busiest of them all… but we keep telling ourselves, through repeated conversations with other people… that we like it.
I hate being busy. I love doing nothing. Nothing’s better to me than a lazy Sunday afternoon spent watching the tube, or taking my kids to the park, or maybe just grabbing a nap. My workload has been increased recently, which now means I almost never get a day off between work and what you might want to call two “high energy” kids. So I look for every moment I can relax, but when I do, I have this awful little doubt, this pressure that sits on my shoulders from a world where only the ones who can always point to how busy they are will be seen as doing it “right,” and I feel lazy, and I feel like a bad parent and husband, and I start to wonder if I need to start cramming every other waking moment with sports, activities, planning, and planning to plan a plan for a future plan.
After all, everyone else says they are so busy, so I have to be the one in the wrong… right?
Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is that since taking on more work I can barely make it to 10 p.m. most nights, snoring in my wife’s face as she’s trying to watch something on Netflix. The couch has become my greatest enemy, and if someone told me that there was actually some sort of kryptonite in there sapping my strength, I would honestly want to believe them. I don’t know how folks live these lives of practices, parties, performances, and other things that start with the letter p, and I worry as my kids get older I won’t be seen as a “good” dad if I’m not signing them up for, and participating in, everything under the gosh darn sun.
Luckily, I’ve still got enough of that Bears-fan-raised-in-Packer-country stubbornness in me to convince myself that taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon is somehow a revolutionary act against a world that demands I be always working, so for the time being you’ll find me under the covers… until my three-year old dropkicks me awake. But, for the three people that actually read this far in my columns, I want to stress some solidarity and tell you it’s ok to be a little lazy. It’s okay to want a break, or a day off. All we’ve got to show for nearly 40 years of increased productivity and a country that takes less vacations than anyone else is wages that would be laughed off the shop floor in 1968, so maybe it’s time we take a lesson from those teachers in West Virginia (or maybe Oklahoma or Kentucky, by the time this goes to print) and say, “I deserve to be paid decently for my work, and part of that decent payment can be measured in time off.”
And then, when you actually get some time off, don’t fill it with trips and outings to wow your friends. Maybe you won’t have the coolest Instagram timeline, or Twitter profile, or whatever, but at least you’ll be happy and taking a break every now and again might help you live a little longer. Life’s too short to spend it constantly worrying if you’re busy enough; think about how nuts that sounds. Take some time, kick back, and what’s more important, make sure your boss, or your Facebook friends, or maybe even your family know that not only do you not care if you look lazy, that you deserve a little lazy.