Friday, August 10, 2007

Why do we hare around?

Why is it so desirable to be too busy? Is it an essential part of the human condition?

A lot of people tell me variations on the "I'm too busy" storyline. It tends to be "Oh you are so lucky, I am just too busy to buy from local shops" or "Oh you are so lucky, I am just too busy to help out at the school".

I used to think, in my insecurity, that it was actually being used as a synonym for "too important" - as in "I am too important to help with weeding playgrounds". Now I am deciding that it is a bit more complicated than that.

Like the jacket on the back of the office chair and the boasting about taking a Blackberry on holiday I think that this frantic "busyness" is perhaps itself a sign of insecurity - of needing to be seen to be doing things. A symptom of our tendency to judge people's worth by what they do for a living. A person who does so much that they are always "too busy" much therefore be more important than someone who has time to drink coffee in the sunshine.

We all live busy lives, "too busy" lives, but I also think that we all make decisions about what we prioritise in those lives. I know that when I use the "too busy" phrase it is usually about something I don't want to do anyway - I am, for example, "too busy" to go to the gym or have a manicure. That is indeed rubbish - if I hadn't prioritised reading or gazing at birds in the garden over going to the gym I would indeed have time - as well as a more toned derriere and nicer nails.

My resolution is to find some other, more honest, phrase to explain why I don't do all those things that I perhaps should (ironing, labelling school clothes, going to the theatre are a few more examples) and yet how there still seems to be time for making mayonnaise or embroidering baby shoes.

My theory of time is that expands when I slow down - today the baby housemartins are learning to fly from cherry tree to telephone wire and back. The air is full of their chirps.

We also have Timmy, the Jack Russell we fostered a while back, here for his holidays so I have my click-clicking shadow again.

The hares in the top photo were made as a response to a request for a boy's equivalent of the ragdolls - I toyed with a boy doll but had my reservations - these hares in oilskin dungarees were the solution. The one on the right sold in the shop this morning - the other is available for £28.95. NOW SOLD - Thank you (I might make more when I get time so e-mail me if you want one)


Gigibird said...

Very interesting what you have said about busy people Jane. I have a couple of thoughts -
I have observed that people who are always doing are on ‘auto pilot’ not actually thinking about what they are doing – and I think when you don’t have much in the way of internal thought then it makes sense to busy yourself with activity.
I have mentioned several times how my heart sinks when I am asked what I do all day on discovering I don’t work – I think, I listen to birds I have an internal dialogue that is rather interesting (compared to some of the conversations I have with real people) and I have time to listen to others; so at the end of the day I might not have ticked many boxes but I have be active mentally.
I also think that if you are introverted then an internal life is essential and being quiet is integral to being happy.
The other element is personal values – for you it is important to shop at the local shops so you find the time and make the effort to do so; others may say they’d love to but just don’t have the time – I find if you really want to do something you find the time.
‘I don’t have time to recycle’ no, you have the time you just don’t want to.
But I am digressing.
How is Timmy? Has he settled with his new mum and dad?

Raindrops said...

Perhaps it is my age but I rarely say I am too busy these days. I was recently asked if I would be interested in helping out at the drama group. I could have said I was too busy but I opted to say the truth sorry that I have no interest in drama. (and I AM too busy LOL but did not say that because if it had held some interest I might have found time). I do occasionally use the phase my workload is too big at the moment usually when it is something I would have liked to have done but know I could not commit to it. This tends to be when we start to go into the busy season September to December when I feel guilty enough not spending as much time with the children as I feel I should. But at the end of the day will all make decisions and prioritise how we spend our time usually not doing the ironing or cleaning and fitting in family stuff is mine. Having said that sometimes life makes you prioritise things in a certain way/order the practicalities of life deem it that way IMO

I also think being too honest is not a good thing one of the mothers at the school recently said she was going to help out but her husband said if she had any free time she could get a job and never mind helping the school out for free. Did not go down well with the other mothers honest but did not sound good. Plus this is a mother who's children do the free after school activities run by volunteers.

So I don't have a desire to be busy I have a desire to be less busy and have a little bit more 'me time' or 'children time', 'husband time' etc. When I feel I am just too busy I feel it is down to my disorganisation or I have simply taken too much on. Or perhaps I just have crap time management.

But I do agree with gigibird it is down to personal values. Some of the thing that occupy my time are not things that have to be done like recycling or giving my time to the craft club at school or making things for the women's refuge. These are things we choose to do with our time.

Alison said...

What an interesting post. It is amazing what reaction I get when I say that I don't work any more but I craft and sew! I am demmed lazy or not worth talking to...uninteresting.
There are reasons why I don't work anymore. Good reasons. I think that my life is more satisfying than it has ever been. It is a matter of piorities and working out what is important to you and your family!
Take care,
Alison x

the flour loft said...

One of my biggest problems is that I find it very difficult to say "no" and therefore end up committing myself to too many things which results in being so busy that I don't know whether I'm coming or going!! By trying to please everyone all of the time I find that I rarely pull it off completely and end up feeling resentful and useless. I was saying as much to my Mum this week (as you already know a sage on most things) who told me, not for the first time, that I have to learn to say NO. Easier said than done but I secretly think she's right - don't tell her!
Love Al x

Ragged Roses said...

A great post Jane. I agree with the Flour Loft - I find it very difficult to say "no" and sometimes I think it has something to do with me having to justify not having a job of work that I leave home to do. Justifying to myself as much as to anyone else - which is a shame. But there is nothing I like better than lying in the garden or the countryside or the beach (for a while) doing nothing and just enjoying whatever's around.
Kim x
Good to see Timmy again

Jane said...

Timmy is very well - he has maintained his new svelte figure and his nails have been trimmed so he isn't quite so clicky on the floor. He is still obssessed with food but has settled back here without a blink.

I am getting better at the saying "no" thing - or rather at saying "yes but on the following conditions".E.g. I am PTA secretary but have smene else covering for November and December when work is at its busiest; I will help out at Brownies and Rainbows but I won't do any organisation; I will run up and down the road with a charity collection tin but I will not co-ordinate the local collection and so on.

It is turning out to be quite a good technique because it forces other people to recognise that I do have things going on in my life without appearing churlish.

I've been thinking about this recently because the children are on holiday, and for me that means that they should have time to just drift and do what they want. We are very unusual in this and most children we know are scheduled into constant activities, as busy in the holidays as they are in term time.

I worry that this may lead to a generation that is even busier than the present - and for what?.


linda may said...

You and the people who have commented on this entry have brought up some interesting theories on the "too busy" comment that is so common and annoying at times. The times I have tried to get a group together for an event have found me very frustrated by it. I have an old church cook book with sayings in it, one of which is "where there is a will there is a way, where there is a won't there is a way out". Seems appropriate here.
As to reasons why, well yes you do also need to prioritize with precious time and allow yourself some time off to smell the roses, that is not laziness but an important way to keep your sanity at times. And, if we didn't take time off to enjoy the lives we have made for ourselves then what is the point of building that life style to enjoy in the first place.

carolyn said...

I so agree with you about children having time to drift, the whole activity thing can get a little crazy and then what do you end up with a generation who can't amuse themselves. I seem to have gone off at a tangent here, guess I'm just "too busy"! Actually I long discovered that if there is something that you really want to do you are never too busy.
BTW love the Hare Boys, are they and the dolls destined for the website?

Jane said...

Linda May - that is such a good quote. I do appreciate that once you begin to do things for groups - be that the PTA or the pantomime - you become an easy target when people are looking for help to do with something else. The load doesn't seem to share round very equally and there is a tendancy to "ask a busy woman" if you want something done.
One of my friends, an amazingly capable woman, has almost gone into hiding at the school gates as she finds it difficult to say "no" to helping with netball /football /painting stage sets/ making costumes/ shovelling topsoil/ accompanying school trips/ face painting and the baking of hundreds of meringues (and this is just the pressure associated with the school - there is also nursery, toddlers, church etc. etc.).
She has a farm to run and 3 children to bring up but because she is good at so many things and has a good sense of community she gets inundated. Other people never get asked.

I think that quote is a good one Linda May!

Carolyn the dolls are up on the website (I added in a link) and the hare is now sold. I have enough left of the utility blanket that I used to make up another 2 so I will take orders if anyone is interested!


Heather said...

I disagree with this post - I am too busy for many things that I know I should do. This isn't me being too important, nor is it because I haven't got the sense to say something else that is more appropriate because that isn't the case.

If I say I'm too busy that is the reason I'm not doing X or Y even if I think X and Y is a valid thing to do.

I don't have time to shop locally even though I feel that is a valid thing to do and something I would like to do.

Great portions of time are allocated to full time office based work/collecting children/cooking dinner - I then have a limited amount of time left for all those activities that are then optional and have to compete with each other for prominence.

Making perfumes and toiletries and posting them out; cleaning, feeding caring for animals, keeping house and garden - I have no outside help other than husband.

My life personally is a frantic mess - I can't pretend I like it nor would I say that I propose the way I live is something other people should aspire to - its just the way it is. But it is busy - there is no getting away from it.

Modern life has a way of being that way and so I disagree that ascribing this to a set of personal values is the answer.

If you were to meet me - you would perhaps meet a woman on the edge - who has to fly about by the seat of her pants, who is just too busy - believe me

Jane said...

I'm glad that someone has disagreed with me - actually I also disagree with me and the way the comments have led, - I don't, for example, think that there is a moral dimension to what people do with their time and I think that the emphasis on community things in my examples can suggest that.
I do think that I have made the choice to work hard, (it would be much fewer hours working for someone else) and also to fill up my life with things that take up time (and I would put the animals in this category though not the children!).
I also feel that using the "too busy" tag in the past has been a way for me of not facing up to the fact that I prioritise other things, some of which are self indulgent. I think that it is important for me to accept that, and to say it is OK. The supposed Scottish work ethic was well drummed in.
I don't, for example, work after 9.30 if Euan is home. I could perhaps fit in the gym or the pantomine costumes etc. after that time but I choose not to.
I certainly don't think that people lie when they say that they are too busy, though I know that it used to irritate me at work that the people who purported to be busiest got the least done.
I suspect that my irritation at people saying "Oh you are so lucky . . . I am too busy to . . ." is due to my suspicion that they feel I haven't got a proper job and that I drift around with my trug and arrange a few flowers. And that is in many ways just plain immature.
I hope that you will continue to disagree on the new site.

thevintagemagpie said...

Hi Jane, Love those hares, will be back soon to catch up more x