HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU HEARD or maybe even used the excuse that begins with, “Sorry I’m late but I’ve just been so busy”? It is today’s most overused excuse and a not so subtle way of letting everyone know just how overworked, important and busy your life is.
The busy excuse has penetrated our psyche so deeply that even a simple question such as – How you doing? – will often be answered with, “Busy.” It is an invitation to ask, how busy and that provides the needed opening for one to roll out the story of their busy life.
Telling people how time-starved your life has become, is a way of bragging about one’s importance without giving the appearance of actually boasting. But the verbal swagger is there and is easily recognizable.
Being late for that meeting or even something as simple as coffee with a friend and breathlessly apologizing for your tardiness with the ‘I’m so busy’ excuse, sends a clear signal. You are telling your companion that you see their time as being less valued than yours and can be sacrificed in recognition of your far busier and active life. The messaging clearly states, “I kept you waiting because unlike me, you obviously had nothing better to do with your time.”
If you took a moment to think about it, claiming you’re busy is more important than someone else’s time, could be seen as a rather rude and lame attempt to embellish your own self-importance.
Are we really as busy as we claim or are we unknowingly turning busy into a means of boosting self-worth? Are we enrolling our children in every imaginable organized sport or activity because they need and want to or because we always feel guilty and have lost touch with what quality time really is?
As a child, if I needed help with my baseball game, my parents didn’t enroll me in and then drive me to a series of baseball camps or blame my coach. Instead my father and I would spend an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon tossing the ball around, trying new throwing techniques and most importantly, just talking and kidding around.
We seem to be losing or have already lost that ability to connect. In its place is an almost masochistic frenzie to organize, plan, digitize, scrutinize and project-manage our lives and that of our family, down to the last minute. Life has been distilled to a list. Yes, that list and there seems to be no place or time for spontaneity. And daydreaming type idleness is the obvious work of the devil.
Maybe there is a reason we can’t sleep, are constantly exhausted, have trouble communicating in person, don’t eat properly, are surprised teachers know our kids better than we do, actually believe we’re good at multitasking, spend more time with our phones then with real people and seldom feel truly satisfied.
Being busy is not a badge of honour or a means of demonstrating how important we are and maybe it’s time we recognized it as an indicator of something gone wrong.
Bill McQuarrie is a former Kamloops entrepreneur who has retired to Vancouver Island where he spends a lot of time fly fishing. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @bafflegabbed.