Busy, busy, busy

Opinion

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Tom Holmes

Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

Not any more.

Everybody seems to be so busy these days, even in the summer. For example, I have to begin in April to find out by June who is going to be around to staff our vacation Bible school. Between Little League schedules and trying to get the days you want off at work and when the kids go to camp and music lessons and grandma's birthday and when your ex wants the kids at his houseā€"it's a wonder that our Palm Pilots don't overheat from being worked so hard.

Our busyness is understandable. With both parents working, there is less time for everything. Single parents have it even worse. On top of that, we are more fearful of letting our kids have a lot of unsupervised time, so we wind up squeezing chauffeur duty in between our jobs, housework, church and community obligations. As one friend quipped, "My free time is when I'm in the bathroom." Even the single people I know seem to be busy.

And yet, do we really have to be that busy? Or, is our busyness something that we get caught up in without our being aware that we have more control than we think? Do our children really need to be involved in so many activities? Do we really have to work so hard?

Jack over at Jimmy John's sent me the following story. There was this investment banker standing on a pier at a small Mexican fishing village. When he saw a boat come in with several large tuna, he asked the fisherman how long it took to catch them. When the villager responded that it took only a few hours, the banker asked what he did with the rest of his time. The fisherman replied, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife and then stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos."

The banker got all excited. "But if you stayed out longer, you could catch more fish, make more money, buy a fleet and eventually retire a wealthy man."

"And what would you do when you are retired?" asked the Mexican.

"Why," responded the banker, "I would sleep late, fish a little, play with ..."

The people I know who are busy, who are active and involved, aren't doing anything wrong. They are not like the Four Corner Hustlers street gang members who were arrested two weeks ago for dealing drugs. They do good things with their time. But maybe we are not asking the right question: "Is there a point of diminishing returns?"

Busyness has become virtue. When I arrived in Forest Park 22 years ago, the nicest thing the German old timers could say about the person lying in the casket at the funeral home was, "he was a really hard worker." Now days, if you want to compliment someone, you say, "wow, you're so active and involved." I heard recently that Americans work more hours than even the Japanese! Maybe that's the place to beginā€"to get clear in our minds that busyness might be a necessity at times but not a virtue.

With that straight, we might be better able to determine how many of the things we do are getting us somewhere and how many are occasions for spinning our wheels.

It's like the old joke: Did you hear about the airplane pilot who announced on the intercom that he had some bad news and some good news? The bad news is that we are lost. The good news is that we are making real good time. Add to that a quote from one of my daily devotion books: The person who is looking for something valuable doesn't walk very fast.

Have a good summer.

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