I think I’m ensnared in “The Busy Trap.”
A term coined by Tim Kreider in his New York Times OpEd with the same name, The Busy Trap is basically an ever-turning hamster’s wheel where many of us end up in our perpetual quest to find happiness and feel important. “Want to hang out this Thursday?” “Oh, no, can’t. I’m attending a seminar after work, followed by a networking happy hour, followed by my adult education class at the local community college. Are you free on the 10th three months from now?”
I’m exaggerating of course, but not too greatly. I think it’s easy to believe that overscheduling equals relevance. And that no down time equals importance. Which, for me, has only meant anxiety and frustration. I don’t like feeling stretched so thin, but when I’m not stretched, I feel useless.
In his piece, Kreider argues that the most important thing we need is unstructured free time. Time to read. Time to write. Time to take a walk, meet with friends, and simply relax. It’s so hard to take this to heart, I think, living in an age when we’re always so connected and truly feel guilty if we aren’t everything to everyone. But I’m deciding to try.
So this past weekend, I went to my oft-neglected bookshelf and pulled down a book I’d been meaning to read for ages. And I read the whole thing. All 300-something pages. Then I visited friends and refused to look at the clock, simply enjoying my time with them and revelling in our lovely afternoon together. After that, being in the baking mood, I dug out this recipe for Rocky Road Bars from King Arthur Flour that I’d been meaning to try for months. And I turned on a great Pandora station and danced around the kitchen while baking these beauties.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t worry about looming chores or obligations. And I didn’t let myself feel anxious about not being “productive.” I simply lived in the moment. And it was absolute heaven.