We’re so busy, so “productive,” ticking off items off our agendas, clicking through over-stuffed in-boxes. But in what sense are we productive ? Could it be that we are racing ahead in the most shallow senses of the word?
This is a particularly timely question as we reap the fall-out from an era of unprecedented, and often unthinking abundance. By unthinking, I mean activity without thought to consequence, to ourselves and others. Activity without perspective, especially on the future. Isn’t that the core of what’s been happening in terms of the environment, crimes like Madoff’s, and even the disintegration of deep family rhythms and rituals?
A short but important column in the U.K.’s Guardian newpaper this past weekend drives to the heart of this question of the cult of busyness.
“Telling ourselves we’re hugely stressed makes us feel important, in demand, even energised; it also gives us permission to avoid confronting deeper issues,” writes Oliver Burkeman.
He writes, “… busyness is the perfect excuse: if you’re convinced that you’re overstretched and overwhelmed, you’re spared the terrifying prospect of actually doing the things, and making the changes, that you want – or say that you want, since busyness spares you from examining that question, too.”
Notice the word “terrifying.” Burkeman’s comments remind me of a man I met at a futurist conference who spoke glowingly of his new cell phone that worked globally. (This was a while back.) He told the audience, “Now, I never have to be alone.”
Yes, it’s often terrifying to be alone with oneself. And it’s terrifying to take responsibility for ourselves – and for the care and keeping of our world.