“I hate being busy,” I said this morning to my wife, reflexively, as she finished reciting the list of things we need to do. Not that it was a particularly busy schedule, but more out of a general statement of preferences, and especially considering my lazy nature.

In a less honest or more philosophical vein I took up the thought during lunch and expounded upon it to myself:

“I hate being busy.”

“I like concentrating and relaxing.”

I found some truth in this, and actually, I can honestly say my laziness is really an aversion to being busy. I hate being busy, having a lot of non-connected things to do, as as an admittedly dysfunctional defense mechanism, I behave lazily.

Because when you’re busy, you can’t concentrate or relax, even if you’re not doing what you should be busy doing.

So you procrastinate, find other things to do that would make you more busy if you did them, anything but act busy, because that endorses business (Busy-ness.)

Logically, if I did the things that made me busy, I would potentially be able to find the time to concentrate or relax. But that’s not true. Busy people stay busy. They get busier. It’s called effectiveness. They get a lot done, but they don’t do a lot of concentrating or relaxing. Unless they mark it on their schedule.

I submit that very few people can concentrate or relax very effectively in such a regimented way, on demand. I could also submit that very few people may actually be able to concentrate or relax very effectively at all. But that’s narcissistic, and possibly not true.

I like to think that I’m good at both. Most people like to think that they’re good at what they love. Few baseball fans would admit they can’t hit a fastball, even if they could bring themselves to accept that Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds might be better than them.

I don’t think I’m the best concentrator. I tend to credit myself with a tendency to distraction (who doesn’t claim they have ADD these days?) and I admit to being too anxious or uncomfortable to relax very well. But I see a potential. Because if you really love something you’re willing to practice it. And while I might not have been blessed with Daryl Strawberry’s ability to focus on the ball equivalent of focusing on nothing, I’m sure I could get much better.

I already know I’m better than average, even if handicapped.

For me, concentration requires a good long stretch of time without distractions. The opposite of being busy. Maybe it doesn’t for everyone, but it’s nearly a tautology. Only the transition to and from concentration (or relaxation) can be variant.

Now, achieving relaxation is pretty easy for me. But not easy to maintain. Why? Because I want to concentrate. My periods of relaxation are more often broken by desires to concentrate than the frustrations of distraction. And then business or the nagging guilt of avoiding it distracts me from concentration.

If I did have the luxury of large blocks of time for concentration and relaxation would I waste the relaxive periods concentrating? Would I become busy doing what I love?

I don’t think so, but we’ll see. I’m going to have 6 months to find out soon, when we move to Ecuador, and success should be the only thing to stop me from revelling in concentration or relaxation, whichever I choose. And because I think I can easily relax, when I am ready to, I won’t feel pressure to break concentration to relax, and when relaxed, I won’t feel an urge to concentrate until I’m ready again.

Although, truth be told, I hope to stay busy, as long as it’s profitable.  So that I can concentrate and relax all the more in the future.  Is this procrastination?

One thought on “Busy

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