Are We Busy-ing Ourselves to Death?
by Rebecca Manor
I am currently in the middle of an international relocation and while this may seem to have nothing to do with education or homeschooling, stick with me. It’s the third time in five years I’ve changed countries but this time the change is back to the United States, the country my husband and I said goodbye to five years ago. Looking back and thinking about the past years abroad I have been determined to preserve some of the life rhythms we’ve developed while living in Europe. One of the things I loved most was the slower pace of life. However, I did not gracefully slip into a slower more meditative life with ease.
I hated it.
I hated that I didn’t feel like I had a purpose.
I hated that I could not look back on each day and have a list of accomplished tasks neatly checked off on a to-do list. And I hated having to tell the people I met that at 28 years old I had no job or was working in a coffee shop wiping down tables and foaming milk.
Moving abroad meant that all the things that kept me busy and gave me my identity were stripped away in a sudden and rather painful process. But it gave me a space in which to get to know myself much better–the good and the bad. And it was also a space in which I rediscovered creative aspects to my personality. I also came to rediscover the joy of time spent with friends in meaningful discussions–not just franticly sipped coffees in which we batted back and forth examples of exactly how busy we each were. There were a million sweet moments that could be savored when I wasn’t rushing from one activity, duty, or obligation to the next.
Now that I am back in the States life has sped up. My husband and I are driving in traffic in our rented car. We’re grabbing meals on the go. We’re meeting with realtors and employers. And we’re frazzled.
Isn’t it so easy to fall into the obsession of projecting importance through busyness?
Yet, empty space is the birthplace of creativity. As parents and educators we have talked a lot about allowing the children in our homes and classrooms time to be bored, but what about us?
For the homeschooling parents and teachers reading this, I think it is just as important that you schedule time for yourselves to have that space where you can let your mind wander and where you can be re-energized. You need creative inspiration just as much as your children!
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” — Tim Kreider
And so I am thinking of ways in which to create a peaceful atmosphere in my family’s new home back here in America. One that will be so much more important as we re-enter the frenetic pace of American culture.
How that will look is yet to be determined. Will it be limiting internet time? Will we regularly read books aloud as a family? Will we become comfortable with saying “no” to this and that in order to protect our time? Time will tell. But I am more convinced than ever that guarding against busyness in the form of free and unstructured time is not just a good idea but something our souls, hearts, and minds desperately need.