Busyness is an understatement for the majority of people. Busyness can be overwhelming because it involves constantly moving from one place to another, formal and informal conversations, and thinking of what else needs to be checked off the list. Individual’s obligations to their family, school, work, organizations, and other activities define ‘busyness’ in Darrah’s book, “Busier than Ever!” The question remains: Is all obligations essential to living and functioning well if people are growing unconscious of their reasons for their busyness?
It is quite impossible to be consciously aware of all decisions and actions we do throughout the day. As creatures of habit, humans grow accustom to doing these in a particular way because they do not have waste time thinking why they do something a certain way. The habits were already reasoned to be beneficial and helps conserve time. The families found eating dinner together as essential for maintaining a healthy family; However, I argue that solitude is equally essential because it is important to have time to think, reflect and question on actions and decisions to prevent miscommunication with others and decompress from being overwhelmed. Many times families were aware of their structure within their family and their agency in choosing the activities they centralized their ‘free time,’ around. By stating their goals for their family and themselves which often were economic and social success, they assumed all their decisions and actions were towards their goals.
As a philosophy student, it is necessary to immerse myself into solitude. Introspection helps bring awareness of my actions, decisions, and desires. It allows me to refresh my mind of why I am doing certain things, what I am doing wrong and what can be changed? Should it be changed or is it something else distracting me? The time to deliberate and weigh out my priorities are extremely changing. Sometimes technology helps me stay on top of things. There are many productivity apps which I use to set reminders and make daily lists, but they are simply reminders not motivators. I can only motivate myself to do the right things, but it is difficult when the wrong distractions are constantly present.
There are always going to be distractions in life when you are busy with work, papers, classes, and other priorities. It has been a challenge for me to choose the right distractions when the wrong distractions are immediately pleasing. For instance, this semester I spent most of my days in the library or in the Philosophy’s department conference room. If I was tempted to go over a friend’s house I would have to think about it and when I saw one of my professors walk into the conference room it reminded me of what I should be doing since I know what is the right thing to do. Especially if I saw my professor for ancient philosophy after hearing the lectures and reading Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle there was a constant internal battle against my Reason and my Appetite that could not be ignored. By attending the Ethic Center lectures throughout the semester was a good distraction since many of the lectures helped brooding my understanding of issues discussed in my courses. By keeping busy I refrained from my inclination to do many non-educational and recreational activities.
There were many times in the semester I was unreasonably relaxed despite having tests to study for and papers due. The hardest thing was not driving to school, but getting out of my car and walking to class. I was busy working, studying, writing, but mostly deliberating over my actions. It was when I was consciously thinking about the right from the wrong actions that I usually made or attempted to make the right decision, because I remembered my goal: graduate school. Although, my weakness of will overruled my reasoning to go to class or spend more time writing I was and am continuing growing conscious of the necessary steps that leads to attaining a bigger goal.
Unlike the middle class families who centralize their schedules around their children sporting events, education, volunteering, other activities, and optimizing their time to spent as a family and technological devices is quite different from the scheduling in lower class families.
Being raised by a single mother, there was no ‘free time’ to spend on volunteering and other activities. My sister and I both struggled in school despite hiring tutors and occasionally helping us with homework my mother trusted the after school programs to help us. Eventually, I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia in my early teens and was medicated for it which helped me in school and helped my mother out from worrying about my academia. My mother worked two jobs and relied on family and friends for assistance if my sister or I were sick at school, needed to get an appointment, dropped off at dance practice or make us dinner if she was working late. Most of the scheduling evolved around the time and place to meet my father to get the child support and where to drop us off and pick us up when it was my father’s weekend. It was a constant flow of chaos and miscommunication. In retrospect, they both agreed they could have been better organized to reduce the amount of stress, miscommunication, and overall busyness.
The material infrastructure helped my mother and we communicate easier with text messaging and navigation, but ironically it drifted us away from family dinners and from conversations. As social networking became popular, my sister and I spent much of our time at home on social media and created a closer bond between us. My mother was rarely home because of work or going out with friends so she would send a text message to inform us one of us needed to cook dinner. When we were all home, someone was busy on the computer or watching a T.V. show or busy text messaging that family dinners were practically nonexistent. The advantage was keeping close with geographically distant family through social networks. In addition, my mother was not awake at night from worrying about our whereabouts because we would quickly inform her if we were going to be out late or spend the night at a friend’s.
With the holidays near, this is the time where I find busyness to be utterly pointless. Do you know how important it is for some people to write holiday cards to everyone? They waste an obscene amount of time writing to people who they do not talk to except during the holidays via holiday cards. Some people feel compelled to purchase gifts for family members they do not even like nor care to get to know yet they will leave Thanksgiving dinner early to wait in line at stores for Black Friday to buy gifts for people they do not like. I understand we live in a capitalist society and consumerism is our specialty but it extracts the meaning away from what is essentially the reason people celebrate the holidays.
Being stressed out over giving gifts or receiving them could be avoided if people took some time to think what the fuck is the meaning of it all. There is no meaning if all that matters is making sure everyone gets a card or a gift. Personally, I do not believe in celebrating Christmas but the meaning in celebrating Christmas with family is something admirable. The intimacy of seeing family you went all year without seeing is something worthy to value but the emphasis on gift-giving is absurd. Suddenly, people feel obligated to make sure the Christmas tree is filled with plethora of gifts.
Fortunately, these families were trying to do the right things and sought to remain harmonious. They do not express the same moral and ethical afflictions I have experienced hearing from other people express. Most families and individuals I know are below the middle class families. Primarily, the working class families who do not utilize their time nor focus on the same activities and other things.
by Chelsee Jacinto