The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win,
you are still a rat. – Lily Tomlin
Around this time of year, I post the article The Busy Trap on my Facebook page. Well, this year, in an attempt to avoid the Busy Trap, I’m now off Facebook. So I’m going to talk about The Busy Trap here instead.
I have been wondering lately if the trauma of the empty nest comes from a terror of being given the gift of time. Suddenly you have time not driving to soccer practice, not nagging kids about homework, not making meals for a crowd, not doing laundry. You have time with your partner. You find yourself standing in your kitchen with nothing to do.
Most of us like to fill that time with The Busy. Joshua Becker on the Becoming Minimalist explains why we do this in his post: Nine Lies that Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed.
I own my own business, and have a decent writing and speaking career. I also have three children and two step-children. And a husband. And two cats. But I’m purposely not busy. Aaron has helped me slow down. I live a quiet life. I might be in the minority, but Joshua’s piece reminded me that’s ok.
This may be an age thing. I reside in a city that gains 2,000 new people every month. There are traffic and crowds everywhere. I crave the peace of a slower pace. (I realize that this is why people retire in sleepy towns with warm weather).
Here’s what I have figured out:
You can’t be creative when you are busy.
You don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you when you are busy.
You can’t be grateful when you are busy.
And the sad thing is, when your kids are busy too, they can’t cultivate that creativity, mindfulness or gratefulness. There’s just no time to think when you are dashing from place to place.
Try sitting on the veranda after work and have a leisurely glass of wine with your partner. Drop the activities that are scheduled right after school, so you don’t have to rush after you pick up your kids. Even better, don’t drive, and walk slowly home from school instead. Make the time for a long, hot bath with a trashy magazine. Turn off your phone. Hide your laptop. Stay in your pajamas on weekend mornings. Sit around and read the newspapers. Lie on your couch and watch Downton Abbey with a purring cat on your lap. Go to bed early so you can read a long luxurious book.
I do all these things all the time. Maybe this makes me lazy. But I’m very happy to avoid the alternative, because who wants to be a rat?