Life Is Too Short To Be Busy

Life Is Too Short To Be Busy

If I were to die tomorrow, I would wish the same thing: that I spent more time with the people I love, instead of being so "busy" all the time. Wouldn't you?

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It's become an almost automatic response for us when asked how we're doing to say we're "busy." According to author Tim Kreider in "The 'Busy' Trap", this response is obviously "a boast disguised as a complaint." When we tell people we're busy, we expect other people to marvel at how much we have going on, and probably to think it's a "good problem," much better than the opposite.

But Kreider continues with this: "notice it isn't generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are." This is something I personally know to be true (when my mom often had to juggle multiple jobs) - what these people are, is " tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet." The difference between being "busy" and tired is that when we lament our busyness, it's almost entirely self-imposed. We are "busy because of [our] own ambition or drive or anxiety, because [we're] addicted to busyness and dread what [we] might have to face in its absence."

Krieder then goes into an anecdotal account of a friend he asked to hang out with and spend time with during the week, and the friend responded that he didn't have a lot of time, but could ditch work for a couple hours to let him know if something was going on. "I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation." Krieder recalls the days of his own childhood, when he had three hours completely unstructured and unsupervised every day. This time "provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life."

Busyness is not a condition and not just a product of our times, it is "something we've chosen." For me, choosing to be a college athlete, President and contributor to a publication, and pre-medical student with a double major was also something I chose, not a necessary condition. I chose to be busy, but I certainly felt pressure to by my peers, by society, and it's a feeling that I know so many of my friends feel, too. According to Krieder, "it's not as if any of us wants to live like this...it's something we collectively force one another to do."

Again, I don't believe being busy is a bad thing, and even after reading this article, it's unlikely that I'll suddenly change all my life decisions and stop being busy. Sometimes, it is and can be a good thing. But this article was a punch in the gut, for calling and relating busyness as it actually is, sometimes: "a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day."

We want to believe everything we do, we do because we have no other choice, we do because what we do is inherently indispensable to society. But that last part isn't true - at least for me - there is no way me getting an A instead of an A- in a class serves any huge benefit to society, nor is there any reason someone else is going to lose sleep over my times in track races. This anxiety we have is "a form of institutional self-delusion." In Krieder's words, "I can't help but wonder whether this histrionic exhaustion isn't a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn't matter."

Krieder then talks about himself as someone who isn't busy, who is the "laziest ambitious person I know." His best days are those where he writes in the mornings, runs errands and goes on bike ride s in the afternoon, and sees friends in the evening. If a friend called him up and asked him to skip work and check out a new wing of a museum or have a beer in a park, "I will say, what time?"

In the months prior to the article, however, Krieder started actually being busy. "I could see why people enjoy this complaint; it makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon." But we can't deny how much actually being busy, like the people pulling back-to-back shifts in the ICU or the ones commuting from three jobs on buses, takes away from us. Krieder had many requests asking him 'to do things I did not want to do or presenting me with problems that I now had to solve." Being busy is so undesirable and unhealthy in excess - to counterbalance it, we need idleness sometimes.

"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets." We need our time of idleness and quiet to take a step back and reflect on life. We need our time of idleness to make and strengthen our connections, whether intended or unintended. Sitting around and being idle is "necessary to getting any work done." Any writer can tell you that most of writing is just putting thoughts you've had for a long time on paper - and when do you have the most time and room to think? Idleness.

"The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment." Krieder concedes that the world would likely go to ruin if everyone took his perspective on idleness and busyness - the ideal life "lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world's frenetic hustle." He stops to express gratitude at his own luck - as we all should when we can be idle - that "my own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue."

But the second half of the closing paragraph, is his zinger, what I believe to be the crown jewel of the article. A long time ago, Krieder made a "conscious decision...to choose time over money, since I've always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love." When he goes to the grave, he thinks what will go through his mind, instead of regretting everything he didn't do, is "[wishing] that I could have had one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy."

Life is too short to be busy. If I were to die tomorrow, I would wish the same thing: that I spent more time with the people I love, instead of being so "busy" all the time. Wouldn't you?

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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21 Quotes From Twyla Tharp's 'The Creative Habit' That Will Fuel Your Artistic Self

Use your half-baked ideas for good!

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Twyla Tharp is a master dancer and choreographer. She's worked with the world's most prestigious artists to create works that will withstand the test of time. She published her book "The Creative Habit" as a viewing window for seeing into her creative process. Tharp offers both hard truths and gently encouraging words for both serious artists and everyday people just trying to expand their circle of knowledge about art. I compiled some quotations from the book that were profound, useful and to-the-point when it comes to examining artistic development.

1. "Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."

You get some creativity! YOU get some creativity! Everyone gets creativity!

2. "If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

3. "Everything that happens in my day is a transaction between the external world and my internal world. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity."

4. "In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn't scare you, doesn't shut you down."

5. "Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself."

Ouch. Toes stepped on.

6. "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing to what we have experienced before."

"It's *literally* like this..."

7. "...get busy copying. Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

Choose your muse wisely!

8. "You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun..."

9. "When you're in scratching mode, the tiniest microcell of an idea will get you going. Musicians know this because compositions rarely come to them whole and complete. They call their morsels of inspiration lines or riffs or hooks or licks. That's what they look for when they scratch for an idea."

You know you look crazy, but press on, baby ideas in hand!

10. "It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful."

"Alexa, play the Reading Rainbow theme song."

11. "...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work."

Screw this global need for instant information. You gotta just let things run their course sometimes.

12. "Habitually creative people are, in E.B. white's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky.' You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident. In creative endeavors luck is a skill."

Twyla Tharp is really just a more Type A version of Bob Ross.

13. "I know it's important to be prepared, but at the start of the process this type of perfectionism is more like procrastination. You've got to get in there and do."

14. "You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity."

15. "That's what the great ones do: They shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections."

16. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above your craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

17. "My heroes are those who've prevailed over far greater losses than I've ever had to face."

18. "Part of the excitement of creativity is the headlong rush into action when we latch onto a new idea. Yet, in the excitement, we often forget to apply pressure to the idea, poke it, challenge it, push it around, see if it stands up. Without that challenge, you never know how far astray your assumptions may have taken you."

19. "...there's a lesson here about finding your groove. Yes, you can find it via a breakthrough in your craft. But you can also find it in other means -- in congenial material, in a perfect partner, in a favorite character or comfortable subject matter."

20. "A math professor at Williams College bases ten percent of his students' grades on failure. Mathematics is all about trying out new ideas -- new formulas, theorems, approaches -- and knowing that the vast majority of them will be dad ends. To encourage his students not to be afraid of testing their quirkiest ideas in public, he rewards rather than punishes them for coming up with wrong answers."

This approach would've been so helpful.

21. "I began as a dancer, and in those days of pain and shock I went back to where I started. Creating dance is the thing I know best. It is how I recognize myself. Even in the worst of times, such habits sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up."

Take Twyla's knowledge and have fun exploring creativity in your personal life!

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