It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about? -Henry David Thoreau-
Oh that we could all listen to our inner selves the way that animals do! They can be busy at times—playing, hunting, attracting mates and the like, but they sure know how to relax! They live in the moment with no need for always being active or distracted like humans do. Keeping our demons at bay, I suppose.
Busyness as Armor
I am well aware that there are some truly busy people out there, especially working parents with kids. I remember it well! And that various life situations and some jobs are insanely demanding. But I wonder if sometimes we create the busyness in our lives, trying to cram too much into one day. Is it that we want to experience everything? Or that we want to be continually occupied? The temptation to numb some of our feelings through busyness can lead to what Brené Brown calls “crazy-busy” in her book Daring Greatly. She says that we use it as an armor to shield against our feelings of vulnerability. It’s worth pondering on!
In a previous post, I mentioned the traps that I tend to fall into, the ones that make me an ideal and obedient consumer!😉 I forgot to mention busyness. When I’m busy, (and who isn’t these days?) I go for convenience. Retailers, manufacturers and advertisers love this. For decades, especially since women have been working, so many products out there are made for our convenience. We buy meals that are already made and packaged because we feel that we don’t have the time to cook. We buy tissues, paper towels and any number of disposable articles because to do otherwise is so time-consuming! I know that there’s a lot of good stuff to be had in second-hand stores, but I don’t always check them out when I need something. I might have to go to three or four different places before I find what I need, if I find it. It’s so much faster to go to the mall.
In Our Busyness, We’ve Lost the Art of Fixing Things
A sewing machine can be a precious tool to make our clothes go a long way. I found mine second hand, at a very good price. I use it a lot, especially for mending clothes and making hems. We can get those things done by professional sewers, of course. But when we take the time to do it ourselves, we can get a lot of satisfaction from our efforts. When I sew creatively, I get a kick out of the stuff I can make. Easy things.
Recently, I was purging my drawers and I came across an old T-shirt that I don’t wear anymore. Yet I just couldn’t bear to part with it. I had bought it in Guatemala and it was hand embroidered with little worry dolls all over it. So I made it into a cushion cover. Now it’s my favourite cushion, because of the sentimental value of my trip to Guatemala, and because I made it!
We don’t need a sewing machine to mend small holes or to sew on a button. Glue goes a long way as well. Use it to fix any number of things. When the soles of our shoes start to come apart, we think they’re done for. Not so. We can bring them to the shoemaker, he’ll glue them for us, or we can try doing it ourselves. I find it heartening to see that there are fix-it shops and workshops popping up all over the place now. Even though goods are sometimes made to break or wear easily, (Grrr!…that’s so maddening!!) we have to try to avoid throwing stuff in the trash at all cost. Resources are a terrible thing to waste!
Convenience Has a Cost
We tell ourselves that we buy into convenience because we are busy. And it’s partly true. But I’ve noticed that we like things to be easy. Even when we’re not so busy. Growing up, my mom didn’t have a job outside the home. She took care of my dad and us kids, but she also had plenty of time to relax. Even so, she was drawn to convenience. I remember eating TV dinners—those first packaged frozen meals—and canned pasta and soups. She also made us a lot of homecooked meals, but sometimes it was just easier to heat up some pre-made food. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, if we can afford it we go the convenience route. Like my mom did. Like we all do.
Unfortunately, a lot of the products that we buy for convenience have an impact on the environment. Especially single-use items. If you go to this footprint calculator, you will see how many planet Earths you need to support your lifestyle: www.footprintcalculator.org . If it turns out that you need more than one planet, (and if you are like me, you will!!) wouldn’t you agree that we are being wasteful? If our lifestyle is unsustainable, what do we do? Do we need to work less so that we make and spend less money? For those working paycheck to paycheck, is that even possible? Would we be more mindful of the planet if we weren’t so busy, so prosperous? Perhaps we would be less anxious, less stressed out? That is how so many of us seem to feel right now. What will it take for us to change our spending habits to ultimately help the Earth?