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Soulful Sundays: Busy Trap

"Those who aspire to Tao don't long for fulfillment. They selflessly allow the Tao to use and deplete them; they calmly allow the Tao to renew and complete them." -Lao Tzu



For the most part life is a rather repetitive affair. Breakfast always comes before lunch which always precedes dinner. The mundane nature of our days can and should be quieting to our nervous systems. For the most part we know what to expect on a daily basis and when to expect it. Yet, a repetitive system that is even slightly misaligned will eventually dismantle itself. The sum of many small mistakes creates disorder. The more complex the system, the greater the potential for failure.


We have become a culture obsessed with time management. If you don't put it on your calendar then it doesn't exist. Consequently, we fall prey to the myth that every second of every day needs to be scheduled in order to matter. People become so obsessed with the concept that they even schedule time to do spontaneous things. I know I am guilty of this irony. We optimize and manage to the point of dysfunction. The very thing we are trying to control ends up controlling us instead.


A default answer to, "How have you been?" has become, "Busy!" It's often voiced with a tenuous look of overwhelm in the eyes. We all know the look. Busy is a badge of pride. It is a badge of worth and respectability. Busy people are important. They are in demand. We would rather be busy than bored, so we talk about it like it's normal and strangely laudable. Juggling too many responsibilities looks impressive from the outside. Meanwhile the juggler is in a state of panic. Moving faster will keep the balls in the air for a little while longer, but eventually they will all hit the ground.


The busy trap is what happens when we lose focus on the things we actually want to achieve. The holy grail of time management is how to get more done in less time, but we don't think to define "more." What if more was more enjoyment, more tranquility, or more giving rather than more money and status? Perhaps we could receive more fulfillment out of life by trying to control less of it. One way of doing so is creating a Sabbath.


The biblical Sabbath is a day of complete rest from all unnecessary work. Occurring once every seven days, it was meant to be a day of worship, devotion to family, and renewal. Few modern humans take a real Sabbath anymore. Resting is a real challenge, even just once a week. At least it is for me. Ask yourself, "What would I need in order to take a whole day of rest?" I'm not talking about avoiding taking care of the kids, preparing meals, or getting exercise. I'm talking about avoiding entering the busy trap just because you feel inadequate. Setting aside a Sabbath will necessitate better use of your work time. It will mean spending less energy on the things that don't matter to you and your goals.


Try creating a Sabbath this week or even sometime this month if you are really busy. See how it goes. You might just find that taking time to rest fills you in ways that you can't attain through exerting more effort. Don't avoid putting off rejuvenation until it is too late to actually matter. There is an old saying that goes, "The man who can't take one minute to relax and meditate will need years to do so." Start while you are still ahead.

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