Small Point, Maine, my favorite place in all the world to forget about busy and live each day at a pace that is self-defined

Tim Kreider‘s opinion piece in the Sunday Times, The ‘Busy’ Trap, is a timely summertime reminder of how easy it is to lose touch with our own rhythms, our own pacing. Kreider, a writer and cartoonist, has written an admonition that runs counter to the prevailing—and increasing—trends in our culture to overbook, overextend, overcomplexify.

And it isn’t working.

I have been an artist for 40 years. And the longer I am at this vocation the more I understand how critical it is for me to pull away from that workaholic, perpetually in motion mentality. And as regular readers of this blog know, I consistently advocate stepping away from the should have/could have/would have’s to listen more carefully to that inner sense of balance. Isn’t it possible to be productive and also make room each day for the quiet mind? I’m still a beginner at figuring out what this looks like for me. But I am devoutly devoted to finding out how.

A few excerpts from Kreider:

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Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work…The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it…Busyness serves as 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.

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Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a 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. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth.

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My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, 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…Life is too short to be busy.

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