The lives most of us lead in these waning days of 2012 are crammed full of activity. Ask anyone how they are and inevitably, almost as if on cue, they’ll tell you just how busy they are.
Busyness and minimal room for reflection of any kind, especially self-reflection, just might be one of the scourges of our time during the 21st century epoch we find ourselves living in.
There are seasons (rhythms of life) when, no matter how hard I try, I find it nary impossible to locate pockets when I can designate time for myself and find opportunities for quiet pursuits—reading, writing, reflecting—that allow me to remain centered.
Are we all as busy as we claim we are? Perhaps there are places where we can free up some time for ourselves. Just a few hours set aside can make a world of difference, removing that harried sense that no one enjoys feeling.
Life is hard and I’m not discounting that for many, work, along with the duties of parenting, volunteering and giving something back to their communities—these crowd out free time from our calendars and create an environment where there is less time than there are items on our to-do lists.
My German grandfather was a hard-working man. It was a common refrain among Baumer males that when Opa was in his prime, “he could outwork three men.” Since he was in his 60s when I first observed his work, cutting wood and holding his own with his two sons (my father and Uncle Bob), then 30 years younger than he was, cultivating the large garden he maintained outside of town, or working around his house on Pleasant Street, I had no doubt that this was the truth.
This was actually nothing, because before he retired from the Worumbo Mill in Lisbon Falls, he routinely worked 8 hours after getting up early to milk cows, and then walking them out to pasture in what later became Huston Park where I’d grow up. Then, upon returning home after what we now consider a full day of work, Opa still spent another three or four hours on chores that were traditional for men of that era when you raised much of your own food.
While Opa taught me that work was sacred and essential for anyone that wasn’t a ne’re-do-well, he also impressed upon me the importance of down time. As hard as he worked, he still had time to watch Championship Wrestling on Saturday afternoons just after lunch. Sitting in his special armchair, he loved wrestling and as a result, I took an interest in it. I still remember some of the characters we watched together—George “the Animal” Steele, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Captain Lou Albano.
On Sunday, he would shed his uniform of green khaki work shirt, pants, and work boots, and don his Sunday best—a dark suit, white shirt, tie, spit-shined black shoes, and hat—and trudge down Pleasant Street to Holy Family Catholic Church. He never worked on Sundays. This was his day of rest.
Busy is good, especially if it leads to something tangible and beneficial. Just remember to rest.
Are you resting today?