The post-modern ailment of being busy
Everyone is just so busy being busy, said one of my friends to me, no-one has any time to actually do anything. And it’s true, part of the modern malaise is that it is mandatory to be busy. If you meet someone after a long time, and you ask how they are they say, well, you know, just so busy busy busy. We’ve all heard it. Heck, we’ve all said it. It’s the only way to validate being a respectable member of society these days.
A few years ago, I took some time off work to do, well, nothing. It was an incomprehensible concept for most. What do you do, they would ask. Nothing, I told them. What’s your job, I don’t have one. Are you planning to get one? No. So you um, well, do nothing? Yes, absolutely. Hmm. They would move on to talk to someone else.
And so that is where we are. The art of just being has been lost. I don’t mean we should be idle or lazy, that we should not take responsibility for running our lives and living them to the full. But we just don’t know how to be anymore.
I work in technology, and the current mantras in gadgets and services are “never be more than a phonecall away”, “always be in touch”, “your music with you wherever you are”. The thought of a moment’s unoccupied silence is a deeply frightening idea. You have to be listening to music, to the radio, on the phone to someone, just doing something, anything so that your brain and soul have no moment to relax, reflect or be inspired.
It seems that we in the postmodern age are hiding from something. Hiding from the possibility of being better, from exploring ourselves. A few minutes without any outside sensory input can work wonders, can open unknown possibilities. But it takes effort and a conscious decision to stop being busy just for being busy’s sake.