As humans, we are the masters of the fine art of keeping busy. The sound of the morning alarm is like the bang of the starting pistol and we are off on the endless list of tasks and activities for that day.
Then there are those rare occasions when we find ourselves with nothing to do or nowhere to be. Then what? Usually we will fall into one of three camps.
The ‘do-ers’ realise that this spontaneous space is clearly an opportunity to catch up with life and quickly set about organising the house or the finances (or some other chore) that they have been putting off — after all, there is always that slim possibility that we might just get ahead and then we can relax. Funny how that day never seems to come!
The ‘distraction-ers’ are much more savvy. They have already figured out that time and space is a luxury that doesn’t come round very often. They are not about to fill their free time with more work. This is an opportunity to flick the switch on the television, play on the xBox, surf the internet, chat on Facebook or meet some friends for a well-earned drink or two (or few!) They operate on a principle of having deserved their time off and will make sure they make the most of it. They are busy doing nothing in particular.
And then there are the ‘dilemma-ers’. This camp is made up of the people that will most definitely do something with their free time when they can just figure out what it is that they would want to do. Dilemma-ers find themselves at the end of a free morning or afternoon and wondering what happened to the time. They have been so consumed with working out how they want to spend the time that the clock has ticked right on by. Ah well, its back to work tomorrow and that will solve the dilemma of what to do!
Can you see yourself in any of these types? Or perhaps you are a combination of them all?
We all have our strategies for filling our time. The real question is not so much about our preferred tactic but rather why we insist on being busy. You may well want to argue this point. It probably does seem as though you have very good reason for always being on the go. As a reformed ‘do-er’, I would have been the first to present a good argument and supporting evidence for why my life was a hectic as it was. I believed that all the rushing around was actually getting me somewhere.
But not any more. When circumstances conspired to force me to a halt, I faced a dawning truth. I kept on ‘doing’ because I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped. If I wasn’t tackling the hundreds of responsibilities that come with being a mother, business-woman, house-owner and citizen, then what else was there? Seemingly nothing! It was my constant doing that kept the fear of falling into the void of emptiness at bay.
Our identity is defined by the roles that we do. Take away those roles and we will most likely feel lost and unworthy. Ask the injured soldier compassionately released from his post, ask the high-powered business executive soon after retirement, ask the mother with empty-nest syndrome grieving her children’s departure, ask the widow or widower who now lives alone — the story is incredibly similar.
Our roles are transient but our nature is eternal. Being busy is merely a distraction from knowing one’s true essence. There is such a wealth of wisdom that comes from stopping long enough to discover who you really are. When the space arises make this relationship with yourself your highest priority. After all, it is only this connection that will last forever. Isn’t that worthy of your quality attention?
Spend time in isolation doing absolutely nothing. Let the real you emerge. The to-do list can wait. Meet yourself in your emptiness and you will discover the whispers from your soul.