Magpie Anthology

The Art of Stopping

It strikes me that I spend much of my life complaining about how busy I am. And it’s not just me; busy seems to make the world go round.

When someone asks, ‘how are you doing?’ and you answer, ‘you know… keeping busy’, that’s generally deemed to be a positive thing, as if the very notion of not having something tangible to get on with, of facing a miraculously empty diary page would be unthinkable.

Heaven forbid we should get up in the morning with precious hours stretching out in front of us, and nothing to fill them with; no urgent tasks or pleasant pastimes to demand our attention. Very few of us would admit to experiencing this – not even on holiday. Saying you’re busy, especially as you get older, may well be a good thing. But I’m not sure I’m quite there yet…

There are the times when I can’t see beyond mine and my family’s busyness. The sheer number of tasks to tick off can feel quite overwhelming and make me feel like I’m wearing blinkers, ploughing ever forwards on an eternal treadmill.

There’s the morning madness of getting everyone fed and to school and work on time, followed by the usual daytime stuff – the myriad jobs I need to get through, creative tasks I’d love to embark on, but never seem to – then the kids come home and need feeding (again!) and ferrying to umpteen different life-enriching activities. If I’m done for the day and catching up with one of the many box sets I’ve started and not finished, before 10pm – it’s a minor miracle.

Who decided that being busy was a good thing in the first place? I would say I’m a pretty busy person, but I hope I don’t become one of those people who wear their busyness like a martyr’s cross. I reckon that if people really wanted to relinquish some of the stuff that fills their waking hours they probably could – they probably just don’t choose to. In fact, that applies to most of us, but then we’d have to find something new to complain about.

So why wallow? Let’s drop a few of those plates we’re frantically spinning. What’s a little broken crockery in the grand scheme of things? Next time you’re asked how you are, why not reply, ‘Great thanks. There’s not a thing on my to-do list today – and I’m loving it’. Then kick that busyness into the long grass and take some time out to think, rest, meditate – do what you will. Stick on that box set or bake that cake. Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

Words: Lucy Callington

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