Busy Soup for the Brain

 I began this post thinking that, lately, I may have taken on more tasks than I can handle. My husband Ed brought it to my attention not long ago but fearing that if he said too much he would find himself in the middle of a perfect marital storm, he didn’t push the issue.

 I do like being busy. It’s good for me and keeps my brain cells challenged. Yet Ed may have a point. His point, though, is not mine. He wants me to slow down. I don’t. Still, Ed’s comments stuck in my head, and I decided to find out how busy people coped with their – well – busyness.

The quickest way to do that was to search Google for overly busy people. The phrase seemed innocuous enough, but, as it turned out, I uncovered a bit of online venom. I was stunned to find, for example, that instead of busy people being admired, they were often considered annoying. Now that’s a topic more interesting than coping, right?

Most people believe they are busy. And most people are. But after reading several of the internet complaints, I discovered that people who babbled on about being too busy were seen as irritating and arrogant. The list of complaints also included folks who were so busy they were continuously late for appointments; they aggravated those who were always on time. Also making the list were those who made a big deal about how busy they were as a way of avoiding doing what they were supposed to do.

Finally, but perhaps the most evocative, were those people who were too busy to read poetry. Take Stephen Dunn’s poem titled Poem for People Who Are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry. Published in 1966, his poem’s first line is, “Relax. This Won’t Last Long.” I ended my search after that.

Taking the matter seriously, though, I speculated about famous people, none of whom I knew personally. I imagined that they didn’t belong to any of the categories – babbler, late arriver, avoider – on any regular basis, that is. I thought about Elie Wiesel, the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace, whose themes are based on the Holocaust and its survivors, and Stephen King, the prolific horror specialist, whose subjects include vampires and evil machines. Those two are very busy. Do they have time to talk about being busy? I doubt it. Are they usually late? I don’t know. But they certainly don’t avoid their work since they’re both extremely productive.

And how about celebrity politicians like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner? They must be working overtime given today’s contentious climate. Are they talking about being too busy? Of course not; they are too busy strategizing. Are they usually late? Maybe. And the avoidance dimension probably is relevant only when it comes to sensible discourse, not job-oriented tasks.

But what about my busyness? Am I making a big deal about it? I do seem to be repeating myself – see the first line of my March blog, the post about Special-Needs Moms, www.unexpectedlives.com. I quickly dropped the busyness issue from that post, however, in favor of writing about Moms, their kids with special needs, and the Mom2Mom* program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

At any rate, since I intended to continue all my various activities anyway, a good look at my busyness, or at least my sense of busyness, was in order.  My self-analysis included questions such as

  • Why am I so busy? I like being busy.
  • Am I so busy? Sure.
  • Is talking about my busyness annoying to others? It’s possible.
  • Am I often late for appointments? Well . . .
  • Am I an avoider? Perhaps.

I must admit that the above is not a rousing endorsement of my social behavior. Therefore, I’ll change. It shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll simply

  • Keep quiet about being soooo busy.
  • Be on time for all appointments, both social and business. Unless something unavoidable comes up – but that may be hedging it a bit.
  • Overcome – avoid? – the need to do laundry when it conflicts with writing that is determined by deadlines.
  • Ditto the above for polishing the silver.
  • Ditto again for roaming the malls.

 Everything else will be put aside except for eating, sleeping, and my husband until I’ve written my blog post, drafted the introduction to The Valerie Fund’s* forthcoming book, Stories of Hope and Healing (working title), tweaked the current version of my memoir, Unexpected Lives, and completed my chapter on resilience.  By the way, did I say that both the chapter on resilience and The Valerie Fund’s book are due in September? There I go again. Sorry.

It will not be easy but I can do it. I think.


Mom2Mom Helpline Program: 1-877-914-6662;  WWW.mom2mom.us.com

The Valerie Fund: WWW.thevaleriefund.org

Suzann B. Goldstein lives with her husband Ed and a tree named Buster, (under Recent Posts, please click on “A Half-baked Story About a Crazy Dog and a Nutty Squirrel”). Sue is co-founder of The Valerie Fund, has her Master of Arts degree in medical sociology from Rutgers University in New Jersey, is a freelance writer and a poet, and has just recently completed her memoir, Unexpected Lives.

Editor: Edwin C. Goldstein