May 13, 2013

Stop The Busyness Monday

I have a neighbour that has recently arrived in Canada from Cuba. When we talk about the differences between the two countries she often points out how much more busy it is here. Everything is "rapido, rapido, rapido", and that one is not hard to translate.

Maybe geography can account for some of the difference - this far north for a large part of the year if you don't keep moving you are going to freeze to death. But we do have homes with central heating, and yet the busyness goes on four seasons a year.

What is the purpose of all this friction as we frantically rub up against life? Is our quality of life improving? Do our efforts make the world a better place?

Many of the world's difficulties are due to the glorification of busy. Busy for the sake of busy. Keep moving. Increase productivity. Do more with less, or do more with more but always, do more.

We tend to look at non-busyness with suspicion. What would we even do if we stopped all the activity?

People are unable, afraid, to break their addiction to busyness. It is, after all, a culturally approved road to "success", and it  helps avoid being labeled with a variety of get-with-the-program put-downs like "slacker" or "lay about".

John Lennon, in his song Watching The Wheels, lamented being labeled as "lazy" when he took time off from the music industry to raise his son and bake bread.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game...

But Lennon was happy and content with the slow pace of his new simple life. He was not afraid to step off the merry-go-round.

Like Lennon, we should not be afraid of slowing down, or stopping completely. Our mental health and the health of the world depend on our ability to balance action with rest. It is vital that we occasionally take a break to talk with a neighbour, or watch hummingbirds visit a feeder or go for a walk. Or just sit.

Industrialized nations would benefit from adopting a more tropical attitude. Instead of a frenetico high stress life out of step with natural cycles and rhythms, we can create one in which cooling down time is as important as the heat of activity.

We all benefit from moderating the relentless pursuit of busy and taking a little tranquilo tiempo. I propose a revolution of relaxation that introduces the spirit of the siesta into the frantic bits of the world that are desperately in need of a nice, long rest.

Think of all the damage that would not be done, and rest we would get, if we all agreed to do nothing more often. I know my neighbour would be appreciative if we could slow or stop the busyness, even for a short while.


  1. namakemono5/19/2013

    lol - I have a friend who left the rat race of Tokyo for a better quality of life and more time with his children by moving to Canada - interesting that someone finds that busy too! I wonder if anywhere can beat Japan for busy-ness?

    1. Namakemono, I think a tropical setting would best accommodate my sense of pace. In other words, nice and slow.

      "Take it easy" is what you have to do when it is too hot to move. That must be why Canadians holiday in such places.

      Japan is obviously too cold - like here, people have to keep moving and keep busy lest they freeze up!

  2. Anonymous9/16/2014

    I just read "Overwhelmed" by Brigid Schulte and it was so interesting to read how other (non-North American) cultures live a really good life. Business is an evil, and not a necessary one. I already am able to do many of the things that make for a calm, serene life - and I am glad to have learned a few more tools. -Erin from Texas


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