The Glorified State of Busy

On a recent flight to Costa Rica, I read an article interviewing a well-known entrepreneur.  The opening paragraph presented the case for appreciating how busy she is, touching on all the tasks to complete, meetings to shuffle and general bustle of the day.  If you were to read behind the lines, it may sound something like “if you aren’t busy, you aren’t successful” or “a successful life is a busy life.”

The more time I spend traveling, especially outside the US, the more I disconnect from the American obsession of ‘busy.’  Not long ago, I prided myself on 70+ hour work weeks, board meetings, volunteer commitments, networking events, early morning sweat sessions and no free time for the next 17 days. 

Fortunately, I’ve found a place to exist where busy no longer equates happy. 

I can’t place exactly when the transition occurred, but I can place when I noticed the change.

After a 6-day hike up Kilimanjaro, I migrated to the soft sand beaches of Zanzibar.  Having the crystal-clear water to look forward to is half of what kept me going to summit.  That and the mantra “pole, pole” – slowly, slowly.  On the descent, I reflected of how five days of slowly placing one foot in front of the other eventually lead me to the peak of the highest mountain in Africa.  The task itself was massive and overwhelming, but when I focused on one step at a time, it was done in only a few days.

I’m the type of person who freezes at large goals and projects.  It’s difficult for me to start on ‘big picture’ tasks, often feeling overwhelmed with the length of time and tasks needed to get the job done.  However, looking back on the past six days, knowing the only thing that got me there was each small step I took, I felt encouraged.  If, each day, I can accomplish even one small task, eventually I will end up exactly where I need to be.

A few days later, I was enjoying the sunset on Paje Beach, Zanzibar. I walked past a family sitting around a fire, the waves gently rolling in front of them.  A local chef was preparing to grill fresh seafood, likely some sort of package deal booked through their hotel.  As I continue to walk, I overhear the mother asking the chef “at what time is dinner?” 

An audible pause as he likely smiled, understanding her not understanding there is no need for time.

I smiled too. It was then I realized I am no longer this woman.  Instead, I am the one who enjoys the moment.  When the meal is served, I will enjoy that too.  But until then, I am at peace, not questioning the flow of time, but simply flowing with it.

Author: Cara Irene