I came across this really good article the other day. It resonated me so much that I’d like to delve into it a bit more. The article challenges the often touted notion that we need to stay busy in the current world. College students, young professionals, even children are over-scheduled and are stretched thin. This constant almost obsessive effort to remain busy, appear busy, sound busy is self-induced and unnecessary. It is an addiction; “It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do.” I cannot think of how many times my parents call me and I have to sound busy, as if to satiate their expectation that I should be busy in college. Or how I obsessively keep up with two separate calendars, one on my laptop and one in a planner, in addition to a notepad to jot down to-do lists and sort them based on urgency and importance. Or perhaps how I try to squeeze in thirty minutes of a show or an hour of coffee meeting with an acquaintance.
Living life on a tight, hectic schedule cannot be ideal. It is suffocating. Why do I feel bad about taking a nap when I should be doing school work? Why do I feel “too busy” to not go to the gym or simply go for a jog? Why do I constantly feel that there is not enough hours in a day? What happened to those seemingly empty hours when we enjoy doing nothing? Who says doing nothing is not productive? As the author points out, reflection and thinking are ways to help us collect our thoughts, reevaluate our actions, and calm our nerves. If we live life by the minutes, what room is there for us to improve ourselves through self-examination? Isn’t it Aristotle who advised us that an unexamined life is not worth living? How in the world can we examine anything if we keep ourselves busy all the time? This article serves a warning bell for those - like myself - who have a desire to be superproductive, who cannot stand “doing nothing” because the feeling of “wasting time” undermines our self-worth. We have to let go and not be so rigid with our schedules because there is so much to life than just a schedule.
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”