Lazy busy

bougainvilleaThis is a particularly busy week, so it’s been a struggle to get something posted. Ironic, given my topic.

I heard a Dharma teaching last week about the laziness of ordinariness. The premise was that we keep ourselves from realizing the true greatness of our potential by being lazy in one of three ways: the laziness of busyness or distraction, the laziness of procrastination or indolence, and the laziness of discouragement, of feeling incapable.

That second laziness is the one that fits the common definition and needs no explanation; the third one presents kind of an interesting take — the lack of imagination to believe in our potential as a form of laziness; but it is that first kind of laziness that really captured my attention.

It’s a surprising definition of laziness because we think we’re keeping busy to avoid laziness and to accomplish things, maybe great things. But as I thought about it, I realized that I had a lot to learn by this new lesson. I am always fretting over how busy I am, how I don’t have time to do the many things I’m interested in, and I tell myself I am busy in order to do great things. I do think I spend my time productively, for the most part, but how much of this is distraction?

Dave X Robb on Bernal HillWhat might I accomplish if I were to stop being so damn busy all the time? Accomplishing more should not be the goal. Accomplishing greater things should be…not to mention relaxing once in a while, spending time taking stock, daydreaming, silence. I read a great opinion piece in the New York Times about this, called “The ‘Busy’ Trap.”

It makes sense that if we never stop and take a step back to assess where we’re going, we might cover a lot of ground and rack up a lot of experiences, but really, shouldn’t we pull over once in a while and look at the map?


14 thoughts on “Lazy busy

  1. David, thank you for your link and your blog post on this. I have several friends who I know keep themselves busy just to avoid “The Void”. When they stop, they start to think and realize what’s missing from their lives or where they’ve failed. This is a terrifying for a lot of people and some friends have spiral downwards. Granted you can’t spend every waking moment thinking about what you don’t have or where you’ve messed up but there’s balance. I am, however, guilty of procrastination and discouragement so I’m going to think about that some more:-)

  2. When busi-ness is inevitable, to do it without being in a state of distraction, or its opposite, over-focus. That is, to do what is needed with clarity and levity, maintaining the ability to look away from the sink full of dishes and meet your child’s eyes with a receptive gaze when she comes up and wraps her arms around your legs, more demands soon to follow. This is my “yoga” at the moment.

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