Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

The oldest excuse in the book…

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time” is to say “I don’t want to.” -Lao Tzu

Mick Jagger always said the time was on my side.  Styx claimed we had too much time on our hands.  But I have to agree with Don Henley when he warns that time keeps slipping away. We all get 24 hours in a day, but some days it seems impossible to get through everything I have to do and still find any time to breathe, let alone write.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people answer the question, “how are you?” with “oh, I am soooo busy!” or something along those lines.  I admit – I used to do that.  Everyone around me was always talking about how busy their schedules were and how they didn’t have a single minute to themselves.  It just didn’t seem right for me to not be that busy too.  Lately, I have been making a conscious effort to strike that phrase from my arsenal of ready answers.

I am coming to realize that we allow busyness into our lives at an alarming rate.  We do this because being busy makes us feel important.  It makes us feel like the world could not possibly function without us.  And it gives us the easiest and oldest excuse in the book for not pursuing our dreams.  We would write that book, learn to cook, travel more, invent something wonderful if we only had the time.  But we are SO BUSY!

It’s a shame really.  How we rush through our lives feeling busy and exhausted.

In her book Page After Page, Heather Sellers writes that if we  want to be writers (or chefs, or parents, or whatever), we have to stop “qualifying ourselves for every other job.”  We have to stop being so busy. Don’t volunteer for everything; don’t micromanage your life and the lives of everyone around you; don’t say yes to invitation.  Decide what is really important to you and make time for that.

She writes that every time you say you are too busy:

  “You are saying: I am unhappy; I am afraid of my power. You are saying to us, to yourself: I am important and in a hurry and people just don’t understand how good I am, especially me.

    You, angel baby, are grooving on the busy drug. You are addicted to distraction. Like heroin, it feels so good the first time. The first time you had that busy day, you rushed and fled from task to person to event- you flew, you were so much like a fairy tale person, and look what got done.

     Many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to re-create that busy buzz.”

Now, busy is not a terrible thing, unless it is keeping you from your dreams.  You have to choose.  Do you want to be busy all the time or do you want to carve out time and space in your life for your writing or whatever makes you feel alive?  It really is your choice.

I often feel like I am too busy to really dedicate the amount of time to writing (or yoga, or quilting, or reading) that I would like.  When I do find time at the end of a work day, I am tired, or my brain is tired, and I don’t think I can bring the energy I need to my writing.  So, I say, tomorrow.  I will write tomorrow.  And the next day plays out the same.

I can fill a lot of time thinking about writing, or reading about writing and never actually write a word.  This feels like writing, but it is not the same thing.  To write, I have to sit still and put the words down.  Simple as that.  I can “write” entire scenes and outline characters in my head while I am brushing my teeth or driving to the office, but to be a writer, I have to sit down and get those words onto the paper.

If you are tired of always wanting to write, (or cook, or learn to swim, or study Russian), but find you are TOO BUSY, sit yourself down and have a serious talk with yourself.  Many writers have day jobs, families, commitments and obligations but still find the time to write.  It is a matter of deciding what is a priority to you, and adjusting your time accordingly.  Maybe you can only write once each week for an hour.  That’s fine.  That is an hour more than you are currently writing.  But during that hour – write.  Don’t think about it, talk about it, read about.  Just do it.

I will be having a little chat with myself later. 🙂

How do you make time for your passions?  Are you ignoring them because you are too busy? How can you change that?

4 Comments

  1. Cheryl, I once read a book that defined busy as Being Under Satan’s Yoke and I think about that often. If we don’t make time to stop and smell the roses, we’ll get stressed out. I almost have to plan my relaxation time, otherwise I am forced to spend it sick, which I will be if I get too busy and stressed. I have gotten better over the years at noticing the signs and learning to say no, but still fall into the same old traps sometimes. And with loved ones, it is even harder to say no, which is why I’m so “busy” right now. Great post!

    • Thanks! I feel the same way – if I am not careful, I am so burned out by the time I reach a day off that I spend the entire afternoon napping instead of doing anything the slightest bit creative. Then I feel guilty and the shame spiral starts. 🙂 Today, however, I have a day off and have managed to write for a few hours AND nap! Now off to write some more…

  2. good reminders! I also get annoyed when people complain about how busy they are, and I think to myself ‘but you have time to sit and watch Jersey Shore.’

    Everyone is busy, that is the state of the world. But we choose how to fill our days. If we’re spending two hours on the television or sunbathing but complaining we have no time to write or paint or garden–well, then, you’re really not that busy.

    Yes, there is need for personal downtime but again, we must choose our personal downtime wisely. Getting a mani-pedi or meeting the girls out for a cocktail are soul-quenching activities and much better than watching junk TV (or something equally wasteful).

    • Totally agree that downtime is important and how we choose to fill it can either feed us or drain us further. I really have the whole reality TV culture, too – it is mind-numbing. I think the key is knowing how to pick and choose what our busyness will entail and then really living in our downtime by pursuing things that fill our souls!

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