Writers’s block: There’s nothing important about being busy

I’m developing a pretty strong dislike for the word busy.

Mandy Moran Froemming
Mandy Moran Froemming

OK, I hate it.

I don’t necessarily hate being busy, but I do hate the way some people talk incessantly about it or use it as an excuse for things they don’t really want to do.

And there have been times when I have been one of those annoying people who felt the need to boast about their busyness. I must have been looking for sympathy or attention.

But nobody really wants to hear about how busy you are. Because busy is a choice that most of us make.
I’ve got a job that is often more than full time, a husband and a two-year-old, family and friends all over that we try to keep in touch with.

I play hockey in the winter and tried to become a runner this summer. I volunteer. I have toilets that need to be scrubbed and closets long overdue for cleaning.

There’s nothing special on my to do list. It’s the same stuff nearly everybody I know is juggling.

But about a month ago my commitments and my values came crashing together. I had a chance to spend some time with a close friend who was making a trip to our hometown with her 10-week-old baby. We text often but had not seen each other face to face for almost two years. Why? You guessed it, we’re are always too busy, too pregnant, too strapped for cash to afford an international flight.

Also in my hometown, another very close friend is the middle of chemotherapy treatments and I’ve struggled with being so far away.

It wasn’t a convenient time to drive 500 miles just for a weekend visit. But my husband and I decided walk the talk about making time for what’s important in life.

So I waded through the stress of taking time off at a time when I was already struggling to keep up with my workload.

We headed out on the highway first thing in the morning, after my husband got home and showered from his 12-hour night shift. An hour into the trip my car broke down. We took our son on his first tow truck ride.

It was inconvenient. It was stressful. It was totally worth it and I would do it again. I got to see one of my best friends in action as a new mom. I sat in my other friend’s living room and listened to the story of how her gorgeous, waist-length hair fell out in two days from the chemo. My son got to spend time with his grandpa, uncle and cousin.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when we have to compromise what we want to do for what has to get done.

Today I really wish I had been able to take the day off to go to the Okee Dokee Brothers concert with my son.

Nobody told me I couldn’t, but I’ve got important work obligations that need to be met before I head out on a week-long vacation.

I know that my little guy is only young once, and I’d love to sit in the sunshine and sing “Can you Canoe” with him.

We’ll have to do it another time so that I can take care of my job and be fully present with my family at the lake next week.

But tonight, despite packing that needs to be done and stories that need to be written I will keep the promise I made to him this morning that after supper we will walk to the park and watch the ducks in the pond.

Everything that absolutely needs to get done, will get done. It almost always does.

As I get older, I am learning that busyness is not a status symbol. Success for me is when, at the end of the day, I can sit in my adirondack chair and do nothing more than admire my pretty backyard. There are probably dishes in the sink and emails to be sent while I take some time to do absolutely nothing at all.

I don’t envy the person who is always harried, always rushing and mistaking commitments and to do lists for importance. I admire the person who, in the wake of having many important things to do, figures out how to spend a little time watching the grass grow… or the ducks quack.