Yes Tim! Yes it IS a “boast disguised as a complaint”! And yes, people LOVE to tell me how “crazy busy” they are all the time! And then they look at me, the weirdo freelancer who keeps her own hours, and want to know just how busy or LAZY I am for not being busy.
But I’m with Tim:
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.
I know that when I’m feeling most useless and lost I wish I were busier, but I also know that being busy can be a cheap trick– a quick way to fool yourself and those around you into thinking that you are very important and absolutely necessary in making the world go round.
That said, I think we are all important and absolutely necessary in some ways– maybe not on a global crisis scale, but certainly in the lives of those we love who love us back. That’s how we should keep the existential crisis at bay– by acting on that love, not on our impulse to feel busy which then keeps us apart from the important people in our lives.
(Wow, Rafi, how’d you get in this post?)
My absolute favorite part of the piece though was the paragraph in which he addresses his not-so-busy lifestyle as a writer:
I am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know. Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. On the best ordinary days of my life, I write in the morning, go for a long bike ride and run errands in the afternoon, and in the evening I see friends, read or watch a movie. This, it seems to me, is a sane and pleasant pace for a day. And if you call me up and ask whether I won’t maybe blow off work and check out the new American Wing at the Met or ogle girls in Central Park or just drink chilled pink minty cocktails all day long, I will say, what time?
All I can say to that is… EXACTLY.