Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I leave for my second grad school residency Friday after work, and I have finally come to the realization that there is no way I'm going to finish all I need to finish before then (so I'm blogging instead). Which makes me wonder, am I one of those people who likes to brag about how busy they are, as described in this essay, called "The 'Busy' Trap," in the New York Times Opinionator blog. On the one hand, I liked some of the things the author had to say ("...if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary." "The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment.").
On the other hand, I think it reflects the NYT's usual upper-middle-class myopia. Most people do not have the option of working four or five hours a day or blowing off work when a better offer comes along, as the author does. Most of us have bills and obligations. Some people work more than one job, just to survive. Then there's the whole kid thing; if you have them, they're a full-time job. If you have a full-time job already, they're a second full-time job. There's no option of blowing them off to go do something more fun whenever you feel like it. So yeah, people with bills are busy. And people with kids are busy. And people with kids have a lot of bills.
But then, I do have to wonder if some of my own busy-ness is self-imposed, and yes I guess it is, because I choose to have hobbies and activities that I do because I want to do them and they make me happy and give my life meaning. I don't want to be not busy for the sake of it, and then just go home every night and veg in front of the TV. I'd much rather swim and write and read and make things and work in the garden and travel and hike and lay on the beach, even if that makes me busy.
But then again...some of my busy-ness comes from my social anxiety and my tendency to always say yes to any invitation because I want people to like me and I don't want to miss out on any fun. The boys were invited to back-to-back birthday parties Saturday, which seemed like a good idea, until the third or fourth meltdown E or Z had at the second party. I sometimes shake my head and think "Lighten up!" when I read blogs by women who so carefully monitor and control every minute of their children's days, and (over)analyze any situation where things don't go according to plan, or when their kids' reactions to a situation are less-than-perfect. But perhaps it would serve me well to un-lighten-up and pay more attention to things like over-tired children (we've never gotten back to a decent bedtime since baseball season knocked us off schedule, thanks to the late, late daylight and my inability to resist three little boys who say, "One more chapter!" of the Secret Garden at 8:10 p.m.) consuming too much sugar on too hot of a day, with too much competitive activity going on.
But we all managed to recover with no permanent damage done, and spent Sunday on a friend's island in the middle of a lake, which is almost like not being busy at all.