Time, is it running out or are you filling it up?

Okay, people there is no award for busy.  Maybe it is time to eliminate that word from our conversations.  Self-worth and our impact on the world around us is not measured in busy.  Our relationships and health do not flourish in the realm of busy.  The human spirit and body will shrivel when you allow busy to suck the life out of you.

Energy Vampires

Lots of times we don't notice the energy vampire sucking our joy until we are flat lining in every area of our lives.  One day we wake up and realize we stopped singing, laughing, playing, and learning.  We have bought into the notion that time is escaping us.  There is never enough time.  Running frantically from one event or commitment to the next our resentment builds with every hour we feel we have lost.  Somewhere, deep in the thought module of our brains, we experience the nagging sensation that we are losing our lives, missing the point, turning into hamsters on wheels that someone else controls.

If we are lucky hamsters, we gain enough courage in one of those wheel turning moments to disrupt the momentum.  Maybe we simply run out of energy and our limp spirits and bodies are ejected from the wheel to lay in a quivering heap on the floor, hopefully not dead.  Or we muster shreds of determination and spread eagle ourselves in an effort to stop the wheel from turning.  Either way its not a pretty end, there is usually mental and emotional pain accompanied by very real physical pain.  And dumb as we can be, we do busy to ourselves.


I was introduced to the real meaning of busy when I worked at a Catholic health care institution.  Not because they overworked me but because I heard a nun talk about busy meaning Bent Under Satan's Yoke and I haven't forgotten it.  Whether you believe in God and/or Satan is irrelevant at this point, don't check out yet - stay with me.  We have been sold the idea that busy is a mark of honour, so we careen down the busy road proudly and exhaustedly declaring our busyness to all who will listen.  We fail to recognize the busy road has a big old cliff at the end and multiple warning signs along the way trying to redirect us to a better end.

There are two things that propel us down that dangerous road.  One is our inability to resist the addiction to busy and the other is our misconception of time.  Busy disguises itself as duty, success, importance and we like the attention of recognition for those things so we keep going back to the drug of busy.  Compounding that addiction is failure to understand in the words of Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, "Time is not running out.   This day is not a sieve..."

When I read that quote the first time, I realized I needed to rethink how I reflected on my time, my life, and the things I choose to fill my time with.  A few weeks ago, I was working through the mini-failure of still having my Christmas tree up and knowing that if I chose to use time to see my family and have sufficient rest, that tree was going to be up in February.  Before I would have stayed up into the middle of the night or gotten up at four in the morning to make that tree disappear.  This year I practiced my new mantra, "time is not running out...this day is not a sieve."

JMH had asked if he could help Nana take the tree down, so my intention was to wait until we had a weekend where that was possible. It was hard to wait, it meant leaving the tree up longer.  It was hard to work through in my head that I needed to keep my word and have JMH help.  You can only imagine what taking a tree down with a four year old might be like.  But I had made a promise.  The weekend after that blog post, JMH arrived on Sunday night, checked out the living room and immediately came to find me, "Nana, you gotta get that tree out of here."

Yeah, yeah, I know little one but work with me here.  Your Nana is trying to become more comfortable with the reality that most of what I used to think was pressing isn't.  Nana is working on being present and shifting how I think of time, so I don't miss irreplaceable moments with the ones I love. I suck at it, so it's going to take lots of attention and practice.  As I turn back to the stove, smelling almonds that have suddenly toasted to the point of burnt, a small voice says, "Nana, you hug me?"

Your day is a blank page

Of course, always, and forever, anytime you ask and even when you don't.  I will hug you.  The disappointment and failure of burnt almonds and overdone roast are stamped out by the humbling realization that someone little has such trust in me.  JMH needed a hug, he asked for it without doubt that Nana would do it.  He's getting heavy, but I lifted him up and we ignored the dinner and filled that moment with reassurance, little arms and legs wrapped around my body and head snuggled in.  It lasted only moments before he was ready to go down and race off to chase dogs or find the tow truck.  But I was different afterward because I stopped being busy and allowed myself to be present.

Finally, last weekend we picked up JMH and brought him home for the afternoon to help take down the tree.  He was a fantastic chattering little helper.  No ornaments were broken.  Every Christmas ornament, including decorations around the house, were packed up within an hour and a half.  We did it together, to the favourite word of the day - teamwork.

There you have it, a real life example of ignoring the siren call of busy to revel in the joy of the moment.  Struggling with my perspective on time and choosing to adopt Ann Voskamp's  "I am filling, gaining time. We stand on the brink of eternity."  Our lives are gifts.  Each day is another gift we wake to, a blank page waiting for us to fill it, to gain and wring out every ounce of goodness from it.  Try stopping the busy thing today, even if just for a few minutes.  Allow goodness and joy to fill those minutes in whatever form they come, and when they come and they will, share it with us.

Thanks for reading the blog today, please share it with others if you think it might encourage or inspire.