On Being Too Busy

Most of us would probably admit that we are too busy. I don’t mean that we have too much to do, though that may be true at times, or that we are oppressed with a feeling of failing to meet the demands made on us, though that too may be true at times. I mean, quite simply, that we go through life half-blinkered by our preoccupation with doing things; and it doesn’t really matter whether they are many or few. Being too busy is, first and foremost, an attitude of mind. I must confess that I have spent the last few days fighting a mounting sense of panic at all the things I haven’t got round to, even though I know most of them are not of world-shattering importance and many could wait a few days. The point is, they have invaded my calm, tipped me a little off balance if you like, and made me less available to others, including God. Even in a monastery — perhaps especially in a monastery — little things going wrong can affect one’s sense of proportion. The problem is, how to regain it? How does one become un-busy? After all, life isn’t going to change. There are still going to be unexpected demands, small shocks to the system that have to be accommodated somehow.

I think the only real antidote to being too busy is to be found in those brief turnings to the Lord I have often written about: taking a moment or two to draw the mind consciously away from its chattering and let it rest in the deep well of interior calm and silence we each have within us. Just walking from one room to another gives us a moment in which to turn to the Lord, to consign all our concerns and activity to him. And if we do feel we have failed; if, at the end of the day, we are vaguely dissatisfied with ourselves or others, all is not lost. That, too, can be handed over to the Lord. I’m quite sure he can create something extarordinary out of the chaos and imperfection of our lives — even our being too busy.

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