Commentary: Slices of life by Jill Pertler – The opposite of “busy”

I know a lot of busy people.

They use calendars to remind them of their appointments and commitments. They pull out their phones to see if they have 15 minutes of free time sometime in the coming week or maybe a month. They talk about the business of busyness because it’s important stuff. It’s all inclusive sometimes. Often because there is no escape. It is the price of success, prestige, happiness, self-respect and fulfillment in life; busy leads to all of these and more.

Everything is good. Or maybe not.

Taking it from someone who thought she was one of the busiest of the busy – and proud of it, thank you very much. I know because I was there. I was there – for eons.

A very, very, very busy person.

I used to color-code my calendar with highlighters—one color for each child and one for my husband and I. I think maybe even the dog and cat had their own highlighter colors, but I’m not sure. I was too busy to remember that.

Some days – most days – looked like a rainbow because of all the activities, meetings, commitments, and vet appointments. And I’ll be honest: this calendar was a source of pride.

I drank the Kool-Aid without paying attention to the calories, sugar content, or artificial colors and ingredients. I bought this cool brand without even looking at the label.

I thought busy was cool.

And in a way it was, but not in the way I thought at the time.

My colorful rainbow calendar pages were cool because they illustrated events in the lives of the people (and maybe animals) I loved. They showed that my priorities were defined by family.

Love and family is cool.

Busy maybe, shouldn’t be.

My comfy, busy, recently vacuumed carpet was ripped from me less than two years ago when a life-changing circumstance struck and violently wrenched me from my anxious grip. I was out of control, standing in nothing and unable to move beyond it.

In that moment, I discovered the opposite of busy. I discovered the nothingness of freedom. The value of unencumbered time. The beauty of a day without commitments.

It redefined my life.

And it made me realize that I have a choice. That we all have a choice. Busy is a choice.

It’s also an illusion. We tell ourselves we’re busy because it kind of serves our psyche. I’m not sure how exactly. I think that “busy” might serve different purposes for different people. It can relieve loneliness; it might hide insecurity; it can add value to time spent working at a workplace, raising children, or supporting elderly parents.

That’s okay too. Busy worked for me for many years.

But to be honest, busy is too complicated for my life right now. I don’t have time to occupy myself.

And all I ask is your understanding and judgment. I’m not judging you for being busy; Please don’t judge me for the opposite.

I just don’t have the drive to be busy. I don’t have it in my heart. I just wanna be

Be quiet. be peaceful Be in the here and now. be me

And you can be as busy as you like.

Just realize that it’s not for everyone. At least not anymore.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning columnist, published playwright, and author.

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