Last week I attended an orientation meeting for a networking group I just joined and the woman running it, trying to make a point, asked, “Who here has spare time?” Three of us out of about 30 sheepishly raised our hands. As I looked around the room and took in the vibe, I realized why I felt almost embarrassed to be admitting this. These days, it seems people wear their “busy-ness” as a badge of honor.
But is it? My sense is no, it isn’t. When I shared my observation later with the gentleman next to me, who had also raised his hand, he said, “I schedule my spare time.” Now there’s an approach after my own heart. The lesson here? It’s summer, folks. If you don’t find some time to sit down and enjoy relaxing on your deck or the beach or a park bench now, then when? Is life more meaningful when you’re booked from sunrise to sunset? When we say “get a life,” do we mean one where every hour is spoken for?
Not me. The Tao Te Ching says, “If I really know what it means to live in the great [way], then it is, above all, busy-ness that I fear.” Yes! There’s a reason why we treasure our vacations and often hate coming back to “real” life. We feel that lolling shift in pace and mood and we dread going back to the grind we’ve created. (Yes, I said created.)
Lest you think I’m suggesting some extreme scenario where you quit your job, squander your savings, and let your kids raise themselves, let me hasten to add this: there’s a whole array of choices between an idle life and a frantic one. Figure out where you fall most comfortably on the spectrum and make it happen. Create – yes, I said create — the life and the spare time you want. No one else can do it for you.