That’s usually my response when people ask me, “How are you?”
It may come with some other qualifying phrase like, “I’ve been good” or “I can’t complain,” or something like that, but the gist of my answer is that I am so busy. Sometimes, I’ll even huff and puff and rub my tired for added effect.
I say it so much that I don’t even realize it – an automatic response.
Yes, I have been busy. I am busy today. And I probably will have many arduous tasks to complete at a rapid pace for the foreseeable future – at least as long as I’m on this planet.
But what does that mean?
In fact, I’m probably about as “busy” as the next person. Or less, I sometimes contemplate as I take my third hammock siesta of the day. There’s no denying that the pace of our society has quickened thanks to those damn computers and exploitative CEOs, but I can’t imagine we have more items on our To Do lists then other homo sapiens in yesteryear. Am I busier than, say, Henry Ford? Busier than a Chinese fisherman in the 1600s? What about your typical caveman scrambling around trying to invent fire while not getting eaten by a dinosaur? Probably not.
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one. Other people say, “I’m busy,” too, like the quantity of our effort is a measure of our worth. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I almost think I say it as a badge of honor, trying to prove to my conversation mate that I’m a productive member of society. If I say I’m busy and really LOOK busy (that’s the key) then they won’t scrutinize my credentials as a productive and purposed adult citizen.
Or maybe it’s a defense mechanism, a way to shield myself from engaging in authentic conversation that will bring vulnerability. If I tell them the truth, that my tooth hurts or I’m having a so-so day, will they then suspect that I actually have no clue what I’m doing in life and most days just stumbling forward?
So this year, I think I’ll start banning, “I’m busy,” from my vocabulary. That might force me to actually answer their question. Of course, no one wants to hear my life story when they squeak out an, “HowAreYa?” in passing, but I’ve got to think that ANY answer is better - and more truthful – than the a plague of busy-ness. I even started practicing some other suitable answers:
“I feel love and peace in my heart.”
“I slept like shit last night.”
“It’s leg day, so, you know.”
“Obviously, I’m better than you.”
“I need a drink.”
“I’m constipated…oh…wait…no I’m not.”
“What are you going to do with this information?”
“My left nut is falling off.”
“I’m unusually randy.”
“I anticipate being arrested at any moment now.”
“Who’s running this shit show, anyway?”
These are the new answers on my short list. I admit they need a little revision, (‘love and peace?’ Really?) but it’s not a bad start.
So this coming year, ask me some time – I dare you - “How are you?”
I don’t know what will come out of my mouth, but I betcha I don’t say, “I’m busy.”