A quick succession of busy nothings

After watching (again) the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, I keep
thinking about something Fanny Price said: “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” Many of my days seem that way, with every moment bringing a new parenting, household, or work task. Not to say that the tasks aren’t important. Many are or serve a purpose that is. But they are unremitting.

Like many people, my regular, non-vacation life doesn’t seem to offer much choice in how I spend my time. It feels like I have to get the work done, cook the food, pay the bills, drive the kids, etc. Of course, I do have a choice. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the haste of it all.

I sometimes wonder how much of the busy-ness stems from a fear of standing still, in silence, without a plan or purpose. After all, I am the one who made these commitments. No one forces me to live in an area that requires two incomes, get involved in my children’s schoolwork (yes, even over the summer – lucky them!), take care of two dogs and a hermit crab, and write a blog every day.

I do try to slow down by meditating a whopping ten minutes a day. If we could somehow leverage the energy I spend procrastinating before actually sitting still, our country’s dependence on oil would be a non-issue. So something about it sure makes me uneasy.

I have to wonder how much of my busy life has to do with not being able to stand still. Well let’s just see, shall we?

Today I decided to book myself on a silent weekend retreat. No speaking, no cell phone, no laptop, no TV, just me and some other silent people wishing they could plug back in.

Not exactly jumping off cliffs, but there may be the opportunity for peril. If I go batshit crazy, I might injure myself escaping through the window. You never know.

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14 Responses to A quick succession of busy nothings

  1. notquiteold says:

    I couldn’t do it, unless I were the only person at the retreat.

  2. Jodie says:

    Good Luck! Let us know how it went. 🙂

  3. bigsheepcommunications says:

    You know, while it takes some courage to venture OUT for new experiences, it can also be courageous to venture IN. A silent tech-free weekend sounds like quite a challenge, but very appealing too. Enjoy it!

  4. Muff says:

    Holy Moly, Batman! I know I can’t be quiet that long, and my guess this is a stretch for you too!

    So then I have to ask, aren’t you really doing this to do something different, and in doing so, are filling up more of your time? Just because it is quiet doesn’t mean that you (or your mind) are slowing down. Just sayin’…

    • I am doing this because I think it will be a challenge, and because I believe there is something to be said for being still (not that I’ll be able to say it that weekend). I hope the experience will surprise me and bring new insights. I’ll definitely let you know what happens, even if I end up sneaking out to a bar, or scratching to-do lists on the wall of my austere little room. Can you picture that? I can. Whatever happens, I’ll miss at least two soccer games and a swim practice. So I have that going for me…

  5. Muff says:

    Seek clarity, you know, like the Indigo Girls song…
    Just remember that you can drink a vodka tonic and smoke a cigarette in complete and utter silence!

  6. Holy, hell. Good for you! It sounds like an excellent idea (and even more so after a day like today with FIVE three-year-old boys crashing around my house). Hmmm. Yes, I’ve just put this on my list for next summer. Do let us know how your retreat goes!

  7. Pingback: Shhh | If I Were Brave

  8. Just catching up. Can’t wait to read how it goes! (Great idea. Although, the thought of being alone with myself is a bit frightening.)

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