The biggest excuse to avoid yourself, and others.

This article sums it all up.

The Disease of Being Busy

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”
Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”
The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.
And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.
After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”
Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?
Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?
What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?
How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?
Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?
This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.
For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.
Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.
One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.
The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.
The old models, including that of a nuclear family with one parent working outside the home (if it ever existed), have passed away for most of us. We now have a majority of families being single families, or where both parents are working outside the home. It is not working.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.
Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.
Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports.
I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.
We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”
How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?
I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.
I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.
How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Vulnerable connections

"I wish you grew up hearing how great you are" - good friend

Starting at some point in my early years, my heart was pulled toward other broken hearts and wounded souls.  I felt a strong need to reach out and show compassion & understanding.  Perhaps if I shared my vulnerability, joy and pain, we could be stronger together... form a connection... heal together.

That mentality proved to be harmful.  There would be glimpses of hope and unity... only to have the walls go higher, sometimes on both sides.

When being vulnerable and sharing my true self is not well received, or appears not to, it feel's like I am walking around naked and everyone has their camera's out ready to post my broken image online for the world to see.  It's super scary when I'm hurting most as I have few defense mechanisms in place to deflect the stares.

Vulnerability between two open hearts however is an amazing experience and invokes wonderful feelings of connection and the opportunity for healing.  How do you know who you can be vulnerable with until you actually try?  It's all a gamble really.  Sometimes I've won and many times I've lost.  The wins have far outweighed the losses in terms of reward.

When I start to lose faith that there are trustworthy, open & real people out there seeking similar connections, I crawl into a cave and have a hard time seeing any light.  My priority in life is having strong connections with people and when I start to sink, I find I reach out to people who can't support me in that moment or I retreat to my hole in the wall until I recover enough to emerge and try again.  During those times, I spend far too much time wondering what is wrong with me and why I can't just care about shopping or getting my nails done or whatever it seems mainstream society does to stay distracted from feelings.

I crave real connections with people.  Yet I love being alone too.  Balance is required.

I covet the extended families & friends who talk and support each other in the good times and the bad, who really love each other and move mountains to spend time together instead of making excuses of why they are busy.  I think I don't have that (yet) because I have more lessons to learn and growing to do.

It never fails when a crisis unfolds, people suddenly band together and you will often hear "why didn't we connect sooner?".  The flood in my city years ago was a perfect example of crisis turned to connection.  When we went out to help sandbag, many neighbors met for the first time and there was so much camaraderie my eyes were misty with joy for all of those people!  I often wonder if any of them maintained a connection after the fact or if they got "busy"?

Busy is bullshit and everyone knows it.  It's all about choices, always.  We base our excuses on our priorities so maybe it's high time to start telling people the truth "I have other priorities and you aren't one of them "  or "I don't like spending time with you"....guess we all know why people use excuses.... :)

The times I fall into a victim mentality are the most dangerous and I've realized that each and every one of us lives our lives based on choices.  Those who refuse to take responsibility for their choices use excuses in order to stay stuck.  Sometimes life kicks us hard enough to make a change, sometimes we have to keep taking beatings and may never learn that we have choices on how we want our lives to unfold.  Things happen in life that we cannot control and it can often flip our priorities upside down.  If I don't learn the lessons the universe has set out for me, no matter what comes my way, I will be stuck until I change my thoughts.  I do my best to embrace each day as if it were my last or the last of my loved ones.  I am aware how fast life can change and how little control I have over any of it.  The only thing I can control is my thoughts and reactions.  I hope I continue to grow and find a way to stay out of the wall.

We all hurt, we all have a story to tell, we all matter. #letsdoittogether

“There are two different kinds of people in the world. There are people who instinctively look for every chance to be a “victim” and those who look for every chance to rise above—regardless of where they are in life and what’s happening around them. There are people who realize their ability to create (greatly influence) reality toward a positive direction for themselves and those around them, and unfortunately those who use this power we all have for destructive purposes for themselves and others—many times without even knowing what they’re doing or the power they have inside themselves. We are all powerful individuals. Let’s use that power to create something beautiful!” 
― Christopher Hawke

Fresh start

Epiphanies are like tow trucks....when you are stuck, they free you. - my quote