being busy

Int., cafe. WOMAN enters, catches sight of OTHER WOMAN.

WOMAN: OMG, it’s been forever! how ARE you?

OTHER WOMAN: Busy! Good, but So Busy!!

WOMAN: I know, right?

Where did this come from? I catch myself saying it all the time, whether it’s true or not. Like it’s a virtue. A badge of honor. Like busyness, and its cousin productivity, are markers of a well-lived life.

I just looked at my last post– it was sixteen days ago. It’s not that I don’t want to write, or even that I haven’t been writing. It’s that I’m busy. I have multiple work projects at my multiple jobs. I’m working on new ideas for scholarship. I’m working on my role as an advocate. I’m Working 1.2 FTEs. All of this is fine, and true, but it doesn’t mean I have no time. I do. I am just choosing how to spend it judiciously. And I’m busy, but busy for me is not the same as busy for you or busy for Beyoncé.

I can’t think creatively when I feel squeezed. It doesn’t work. Even if I have 30 minutes, I don’t have good ideas. My brain says, no, you need to feed me before I will do this. So I listen. Time isn’t the only currency of busy, or of productive, or of happy.

How can I spend hours out trail running when I’m too busy to say yes to everything I get asked? How can I spend an hour at yoga when there are lectures to plan, manuscripts to revise? Why do I say no, I can’t go for another drink, or catch a movie, even if there isn’t something on my calendar in that space?

It’s fall. The demands from outside are higher than they were a few months ago. But my busy means guarding time to be with my partner, to be on a trail, to read something I choose. To go on living in a way that I value, instead of in a way that I’m supposed to.

I give myself permission, when busy feels bad, to be something else instead.

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