Beware the barrenness of a busy life. ~Socrates
How many times do we utter the word, busy? By injecting into almost every conversation, does “busy” really mean anything? Do our ironclad vows to busy prevent us from cultivating simplicity? In the last month, these questions keep popping up especially on days that are particularly overwhelming.
For years, I associated busy as a direct correlation to success. When I worked as an attorney, I sprinted through my days. Early morning preparation for a hearing in the afternoon, a hurried breakfast, answering client calls while responding to emails, and then driving to court several miles away from my office represented a normal day. In the evenings, grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, and pouring over work, again. The cycle repeated itself the next morning. After we had our daughter, I worked from home for a few days. Midweek I commuted two hours to my office, stayed overnight, and then returned home the next day. In my twenties and early thirties, I lived through and in this constant state of motion. It offered the appearance of success, but in my quiet moments, I experienced periods of massive burnout, exhaustion, and sleepless nights. This busy caused a gnawing anxiety. On my drive home, I often questioned why I participated in a lifestyle that left noticeable scars of a unfullfilled life.
Two years after becoming a mom, with my husband’s support, I abandoned that very busy life. This decision came with much apprehension and angst. All my life, I equated busy with success. Lack of structure and empty space and stillness were not natural for me. I fought it for so many years.
I appreciate more than ever this irony between the tug and pull of busy and simplicity. It is a privilege to have a busy life, no matter how you choose to define your busy. It is the simplicity of certain moments that guide me toward this conclusion. I realized this truth as I witnessed my daughter climb a rope tree. She moved from one rung to the next and with each step, joy appeared on her face. The chill in the air, the smells of desert sand, a quiet humming from the swings, and my desire to sit in one place made it the perfect environment for drinking the simplicity of this moment.
Although the throes of busy are inevitable, I understand more and more how much my ultimate desire is to sink into simplicity. My unscripted and mundane instances are the ones that provide me with the most comfort: curling under the bed with a book, running before the sun announces its entrance, holding hands with my daughter while we cross the street, and sipping coffee before the house awakes offer a fulfillment that I am not certain I can describe.
I hang on to this simplicity. It is those moments that hold the promise of love, light and clarity.