When did “busy” become a badge of honor?
When did being overbooked become a sign of accomplishment? When did rushed become a sign of importance?
How did we get here? And what are we missing out on?
I made a new commitment a couple of months ago- and maybe you want to try it out with me. I committed to stop saying “busy” (or any form of it) when someone asks me “How are you?”
When someone asks how we are and we respond with “busy,” how does that feel to the person asking? Perhaps it feels like we are saying “I am too busy to have this conversation with you” (especially if the word is accompanied by a sigh and an eye roll, as it so often is). Maybe they are hearing that they are less important than all of our other tasks today. Maybe they are hearing that we aren’t just busy, we are unhappily so. Even if it is true- that we have very little time- can we change the unspoken dialogue? Can we change those covert messages?
I have a firm belief that any time I find myself engaged in conversation with another person, it is for some divine purpose. I either have something to learn from that person, or they from me. Perhaps God is communicating to me through that person, if I would listen closely enough. This is one way we can try to hand our lives over to God. When we cut off the conversation with “I am just so busy,” we have closed ourselves of from all of these possibilities.
So, what can we say instead of “busy”?
How are you doing?
I am well.
(This is my go-to. Because if that is true, it is totally remarkable this time of year.)
How are you doing?
I am blessed.
How are you?
I am excited to be here.
All of these options communicate the opposite of what “busy” communicates. They all say “You are important. I am happy to be talking to you. I am glad you are standing in front of me.” And that is how I truly feel.
My amazing yoga instructor, Allisson Kublanov, told a story recently from the Zen Buddhist tradition. A man was riding a horse, and it was galloping very quickly. Anyone seeing them would know that the man was going somewhere very important, and needed to get there right away. As he was racing along, a friend saw him pass and called out to him, “Hey, where are you going?” The man on the horse responded, “I don’t know. Ask the horse.”
We are riding horses of habitual thought and behavior; habits of mindlessness, jumbled priorities, packed calendars, and never being truly present. And those horses are galloping.
This isn’t what God wants for us, and it’s killing our spirits. But how do we get off that horse? More about that next week.