Be busy, but don’t rush. The difference seems to be small and pedantic, but in practice the two are very different. It is one thing to have a very full schedule. According to Dictionary.com, to be busy is to be, “actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime.” Whereas to rush is, “to move, act, or progress with speed, impetuosity, or violence.” Being busy is about how much we are doing; rushing is one way we can do it.
When I was in high school I was heavily involved with student council. During an especially busy couple of weeks I was trying to balance school, social life, sleep, and planning/directing school events. It was a very busy time. I was also rushing through my day from one task to another. I ate too quickly, nearly ran from place to place, and moved throughout my day with an impending sense of deadlines and unfinished tasks. My mind raced constantly and I had the physical effects to go along with all of this. I broke out with pimples, had constant heartburn, and felt like I was in a blur.
We have all done this from time to time. Unfortunately, we usually call this “being busy” and simply hold on with all of our strength until the busy time passes and we can finally relax. But what if we could learn to relax in the middle of of our hectic schedules? What if we could move with grace and a clear mind from task to task? We might find that we are actually present to ourselves, others, and the moment. This is a much better way to live when our lives become demanding.
We need to change a few things in order to become calm while staying busy. We need to learn our own limits better so that we can know when and how to say “no.” We need to pay better attention to ourselves, knowing how we are feeling and how we are handling stress. Stress is not bad, but it can cause some pretty bad things. We also need to develop practices which can help us refocus ourselves when we start rushing. Things like silence can be incredibly helpful, but friends and family, hobbies, a good meal, watching tv, or many other practices can help us to unplug and reset. Perhaps most important is the realization that the fate of the world does not rest solely on our shoulders. Yes, our work and responsibilities are incredibly important, but we are not alone in our endeavors. We are surrounded by other people who struggle with the same things as us – we need to find a way to reach out to them for support, advice, encouragement, comfort, and more. We also need to lend a hand to others.
I hope that you are busy in your life most of the time. A busy life is often one filled with opportunities, meaning-filled interactions, and satisfying work – if we are able to slow down and appreciate these things while we are surrounded by them. May you “stop and smell the flowers” and move deliberately throughout this day.