The other day I sat outside for a couple of hours and just enjoyed being. The late summer sunshine was warming but not so much that it became uncomfortable. There was a freshness to the little wind that there was which gently made it’s presence known in the rustling of the trees. There was no electronic gadgets or books to hand that could distract. All very pleasant yet tinged with some disquiet. A voice in my head said I was doing nothing.
I was in the countryside and my only companions apart from my thoughts were the sheep in the adjacent field. They were busy. Sheep seem to want to frenetically eat every bit of grass as if it were their last.
Especially interesting to sheep is the grass on the other side of the fence. In fact 2 years ago when staying in the same place one job was watching out for one sheep who would regularly jump over the fence. Short-term she might enjoy it but after a while would start to feel lonely and desperately try to get back over or through the fence. Outside the fence there was also the danger of getting lost or becoming prey.
Sheep also know when to sit down, relax and chew the cud. They have a good work/ life balance.
The drive to keep busy is not healthy. Being at peace and content with myself is far more challenging. One of the most precious yet elusive things in life is to savour the present. Each day I am challenged to live in the here and now. It seems to me contentment lies in the present moment, whether it is busy or not. It is a life’s work but the tools are always there. The way I regard my memories (good or bad) and think of my future directly influences how I view the present.
My culture gives value to being busy. To admit to others I am not doing much implies some kind of failure. Also when told someone is busy implies he/she is unavailable. It also conveys that whatever they are doing is more important than giving me the time of day. Their time is more valuable than mine. A world filled with busy people is a lonely one.
Writing this I am conscious of those whose days are filled providing food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. For many it looks like being busy is not a distraction but a necessity. However being busy ‘for busyness’ sake’ is not something I ought to strive for. I’m told that boredom is a sign of questioning the meaning of doing certain things. It is not having nothing to do. I can be very busy but also bored because I question the value of what I am doing.
There is a healthy ‘busyness’ that comes from being engaged in something absorbing. It probably involves interacting with people, nature or things in a creative way. Such times are a blessing. Instead of a tiring activity I am refreshed and experience a sense of fulfilment.
Like sheep I am tempted by what I think is greener grass. Not content I wish to move outside of the fence and away from the fold.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”Matthew 11 verse 28.