Staunton Star - Times - Published in the Interest of the Staunton Community for Over 143 Years

Slices of Life


September 7, 2022

By: Jill Pertler

I know a lot of busy people.

They use calendars to remind them of their appointments and commitments. They pull out their phone to see if they have 15 minutes of free time anytime in the upcoming week, or maybe month. They talk about the business of busyness because it’s important stuff. It’s all-encompassing, sometimes. Oftentimes because there is no escaping it. It’s the price of success, prestige, happiness, self-esteem and fulfillment in life; busy leads to all these and more.

It’s all good. Or maybe not.

Take it from someone who used to think she was one of the busiest of the busy – and damn proud of it, thank you very much. I know, because I’ve been there. I was there – for eons.

A very, very, very busy person.

I used to color code my calendar with highlighter markers – one color for each kid and one for my husband and me. I think maybe even the dog and cat had their own highlighter colors, but I’m not sure. I was too busy to commit that to memory.

Some days – most days – looked like a rainbow because of all the activities, meetings, commitments and veterinary appointments. And I’ll be honest: That calendar stood as a source of pride.

I was drinking the Kool Aid without paying attention to calories, sugar content or artificial colors and ingredients. I was buying into that brand of cool without even glancing at the label.

I thought busy was cool.

And it was, in a sense, but not in the way I thought at the time.

My brightly colored rainbow calendar pages were cool because they illustrated happenings in the lives of the people (and perhaps animals) I loved. They showed my priorities were defined by family.

Love and family is cool.

Busy, perhaps, may not be.

My comfortable, busy, recently vacuumed carpet got yanked out from under me less than two years ago when a major life circumstance marched in and forcibly grabbed busy from my anxious grasp. I was left holding nothing, standing in nothingness and unable to move anywhere beyond that.

In that moment, I discovered the opposite of busy. I discovered the nothingness of freedom. The value of unencumbered time. The beauty of a day without commitments.

It redefined my life.

And it made me realize I have a choice. That we all have a choice. Busy is a choice.

It is also an illusion. We tell ourselves we are busy, because it somehow serves our psyche. I’m not sure how, exactly. I think perhaps “busy” serves different purposes for different people. It can alleviate loneliness; it might hide insecurity; it can give value to time spent working at a job, parenting kids or helping aging parents.

Again, that is okay. Busy worked for me for many years.

But right now, honestly, busy is too complicated for my life. I don’t have the time to be busy.

And all I ask is for your understanding and non-judgement. I don’t judge you for being busy; please don’t judge me for the opposite.

I don’t have the drive to be busy right now. I don’t have it in my heart. I just want to be.

Be calm. Be at peace. Be in the here and now. Be me.

And you can be you, as busy as you wish.

Just realize it isn’t for everyone. At least not anymore.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.


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