Word of the Week: Busy

I decided to revive this Word of the Week (WOTW) feature, with the caveat of course, that I’m under no obligation to make this a strictly weekly endeavor! I love words and this little practice encourages me to listen to the words that I’m hearing.

So this week’s word is busy:

1. actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime: busy with her work.

2. not at leisure; otherwise engaged: He couldn’t see any visitors because he was busy.

3. full of or characterized by activity: a busy life.

4. (of a telephone line) in use by a party or parties and not immediately accessible.

5. officious; meddlesome; prying.

6. ornate, disparate, or clashing in design or colors; cluttered with small, unharmonious details; fussy: The rug is too busy for this room.

I’ll be honest and say I really dislike this word “busy.” I especially dislike when I hear myself using it. It implies that life has me in its grip, instead of acknowledging that at least a good part of my life, crazy or not, is based on my choices. It’s a subterfuge of sorts, I think; a way I can sometimes avoid facing what’s really going on inside me.

When I was little, I loved to whirl around until the room seemed to tilt and I’d fall down on the floor and exclaim to disapproving adults, “I’m busy!” What I really meant of course was that I was getting dizzy. Truth was, I loved making myself dizzy, to the dismay of watchful adults. I loved the crazy out-of-control feeling that spinning in circles brought on.

Sometimes life comes at us full speed, throwing us curve balls faster than we can handle things. I’m talking about those things that are mostly out of our control, like sick parents or children, busy seasons at work, etc. Moving, changing jobs, family obligations and just trying to maintain a household complete with laundry and three meals a day are sufficient to keep us all occupied to brimming capacity.

But then there are times when I’m feeling squished by the demands of the day or week, and upon closer inspection, I realize that my jam-packed schedule is entirely within my control. I’m the one spinning around in circles, causing all the craziness. I have said yes to too many things, often in order to satisfy my need for approval. Or I have procrastinated on too many things, perhaps believing that denial will remove responsibilities from my plate. Sometimes I am just moving mindlessly through my days, welcoming distractions that keep me from being attentive to the state of my soul and spirit. And sometimes, I’ll admit, I just plain waste time.

Remember when you used to call someone and actually got a busy signal? If they were talking to someone else, they were occupied and couldn’t speak to you. Nowadays you can’t even get a busy signal; your call either goes to voice mail or the other party has call-waiting so they can juggle several calls at once. But what if we let the word “busy” be a signal to ourselves? When we’re feeling the crush of demands on our time, what if we received that as a reminder to stop and reevaluate? Are we avoiding some aspect of our lives? Are we procrastinating or wasting time somewhere? Do we need to say “no” or “not right now” to someone or something?

How do you feel about the word “busy?”

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One thought on “Word of the Week: Busy

  1. I so often feel “busy,” but I appreciate your distinction between busyness that is foisted on me and busyness that I create (or contribute greatly to).

    It’s a stressful word and a stressful feeling. The best responses for me are: 1. Prayer 2. Determining what I can do/control and what I can’t. 3. Moving forward in diligence in the areas I can/should. 4. Building some silence and solitude into my routine. 5. Realizing it’s usually a season or a phase.

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