I’m behind on posting this month because I’ve been traveling – a lot! The third weekend of October my husband and I traveled to Purina Farms near St. Louis, Missouri to sell pet portraits at the UFLI national flyball championships. Two days after our return I flew to Massachusetts to visit my mother, some friends and also attend an art conference to hear the keynote speech by artist Brian Rutenberg. One day after returning from that trip, my husband and I traveled to Tamarindo, Costa Rica for a vacation we had booked several months ago. As I write this, I’m wrestling a month’s worth of thoughts and emotions. All three trips included laughter, tears and many lessons about myself and others. I believe the best I can do is to sum them up in three related topics: busyness, shame, and respect.
Busyness Breaks Hearts
We all talk about how busy we are. Sometimes it’s even true. But I think most of the time we keep ourselves busy to cope with the fear of who we may or may not be. We might even use our busyness to prove to others how important we are, thereby avoiding the pain of considering that we might not be important at all. It’s a strangely misguided notion because in the process we often end up sacrificing those who love and care about us the most. I did that recently myself while visiting my mom. During my stay, I asked her to give me some time to post something on the internet. Common wisdom in the “entrepreneurial world” is that one needs to maintain an online “presence” to keep people interested. In the process of doing so, I glanced up and caught the look on her face. Not a look of recrimination, just a patient forbearance that made me feel terrible. Why sacrifice the precious moments I have with her to interact with my virtual world? Or, to her eyes, with my phone.
By proclaiming we are busy, we grant ourselves the permission to behave carelessly and indifferently to both ourselves and others. Several months ago I started a creative group. We began by meeting in a park, but as interest and membership grew to well over 50 people, I sought spaces to host our meetings. Each host space asked how many people to expect, but I had difficulty providing an accurate number. Some people would sign up and then not show up because they were busy. Others would come without signing up because they were too busy to let me know. It gave me the impression that people didn’t value the group. With a heavy heart, I shut it down only to find out later that people missed it.
Perhaps worst of all, we even lie to ourselves that we’re too busy to do the things that we both want and need to do: enjoy a hobby, exercise, get enough sleep, etc. We have more conveniences than have ever existed, and yet we’re still too busy to be human.
Next time: The Ebb & Flow of Shame
There may still be time to order a pet portrait for Christmas if you order now!
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