Busy is a clever thief.
Quick note: I am missing my friends and family in California who are near the devastating wildfires. If you can, check out this list for ways to help families, firefighters, and state parks.
Last week on a drive home along Chuckanut Drive (where I do my best thinking), I was struck by how often in my life - not just recently, but consistently - I have a pattern of not keeping promises to myself. Either I put other people's (usually men's) needs first, or something "comes up," or I just forget!
Though I could dive into all of these reasons, the narrative I employ most often and the one I want to talk about most is the "busy" narrative.
I can't even estimate how many times I've replied to "How are you?" with "OMG I'm SO busy!" I worked in the tech industry for a long time, which applauds and rewards the "busy" narrative. Meetings literally all day, checking our email at all hours, being constantly vigilant and ready to respond, "getting shit done" (according to the cute placard on your desk, next to the sad dying succulent that you were too busy to care for). When this happens, you don't have ANY down time. "Too busy" is a convenient excuse to not change, to not experiment, to not think, and to not dream. When you don't make time to look forward, you're just going to walk in place forever.
Busy keeps our minds buzzing so that we don't have time to think or feel. It helps us to stave off boredom, pain, or fear. Busy keeps us up in our heads. Busy winds us up, like a tornado, pulling everything in tighter and faster and darker.
Ironically, busy makes us feel like we're MORE, like we're doing it all, that we've got it under control, like we're already holding so much that we can't possibly hold anything else, like we're accomplishing all the things that will earn praise and reward, from ourselves and society.
Busy is a clever thief.
But here's what I think: busy gives us an excuse to keep ourselves small. Busy blocks us from claiming our space and existing as ourselves. Busy keeps our light dimmed. Busy sings the lullaby of other peoples' expectations over our own.
Busy pulls our bodies into a smaller and smaller space until it's so much work to move beyond it that even good, healthy, joyful new horizons seem overwhelming and exhausting.
And that's the issue I am grappling with. We get pulled into a trap of our own making with the lure of completeness, of happiness, of "earning" others' admiration or praise, but in reality, we aren't allowing ourselves the time or space to figure out who the fuck we are and how we actually want to spend our limited time on this earth.
I'm not saying that you should stop doing things that bring you joy or are imperative to your survival. The pendulum doesn't have to swing from "doing it all" to "doing it not at all." But the conversation we are in with ourselves should include the following questions:
Which promises to myself do I want to make?
Why are these promises important to me?
What promises to myself am I breaking?
Why don't I consider myself important enough to show up for me?
How can I create more space and time in my life to keep these promises?
More on this in my classes this week! See my schedule below.
Love and gratitude,
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