I’ve been knocked off balance. I suspect most of us have. I’m comfortable in solitude and, even before the pandemic, am happy to spend most of my time at home but it’s different now.
There’s that constant hum in the back of my mind and a measure of fear over the unknown. There’s concern for family members and so many others impacted health wise, financially, and in ways we’ve not yet began to understand.
I keep busy. I’ve always got projects on the go and, just for good measure, I add a few more and think about other things I could do. But the funny thing is, my motivation for the things that have fed me in the past is low. Photos on the card still in my camera and seed packets left lonely in the laundry room are puzzling reminders that all isn’t as it should be.
The slow burn in the pit of my stomach becomes almost too much at times and my mind flits from place to place trying to conjure a solution soothe the ache. Busy is what comes to mind most often.
And yet, even in that I sense something off. So many aren’t busy with work and things that sustain their livelihood and the economy. They would love to be busy. Others are run ragged serving and helping.
I have this book launching in two months (correction: ONE month, because I decided, just today, to release ahead of schedule), and there are things I probably should be doing in preparation for that, but I’m struggling there too. A Story About Busyness . . . Who would be interested in something like that right now? it seems almost insulting.
This morning when I was praying, my iPad dinged beside me indicating someone had sent me a message. When I finished my prayer, I picked it up and found a video message about—you guessed it—being too busy.
I watched, nodding my head in agreement, thinking about the things I had scribbled in my journal earlier about the ridiculousness of seeking comfort in being busy, how that’s long been my modus operandi and how I realized long ago that it wasn’t working for me and yet I keep returning to it.
After the video clip finished, I turned to a page in The Presence of Absence and allowed my own words to solidify the truth I just listened to.
Busy isn’t the balm we need to heal. Busy work isn’t work at all, it’s just a place to hide from the wild things. The real work comes in stillness when we’re brave enough to face the things that startle us in the night, to stand at the opening to a cave of unknowing and take the first step forward.
And, you know, I think it was no coincidence that my friend sent that link my way this morning. I needed the reminder. Busy is still my drug of choice and it’s probably that way for someone else too. But it never satisfies for long. It never goes deep enough.
I think of the wisdom a man named Benedict left us with. Always, we begin again.
And so, this day, I do.
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Here’s a link to the video clip my friend sent me this morning.