2015 ArticlesLooking Out My Window

Looking Out My Window – Treadmill of Busyness

Today I am on vacation which means the window I’m looking out gives me a wonderful view of our backyard. What does vacation mean to you? For many vacation is a time to be busier than we are when we’re working our regular job. For others vacation is a time to catch up on the list of things to do around the house. And still for others, vacation doesn’t even mean vacation as somehow through the years the phrase “working vacation” has entered our vocabulary. How can any vacation be a real vacation if we’re still working from home on our regular job? The words “vacation” and “working” should never appear in the same sentence. If you’re away from the office on a so-called vacation but still working from home, then you’re really not on vacation. You’ve simply turned into a telecommuter.

A recent survey found 26 percent of Canadians are not using paid vacation days provided by their employer. The survey further discovered of those who said they don’t use their vacation days, 40 percent claimed it was because they had too much to do and didn’t want to fall behind. A separate study from March of 2014, found 93 percent of Canadians working full-time believe taking vacation time is important to keeping themselves happy. Another 92 percent said vacation is important for reconnecting with family and friends. So, what keeps people from taking vacation? Believe it or not many people responded by saying “planning a vacation is simply too much work”.

As I find myself on vacation I’m reading a new book by David W. Henderson entitled Tranquility: Cultivating A Quiet Soul In A Busy World. In the book Henderson describes a disease called “hurry sickness” which arises from a desire to accomplish too much or take part in too many events in the amount of time available. He goes on to say “hurry sick people are unable to acknowledge they can do only a finite number of things” A hurry sick person never ceases trying to ‘stuff’ more and more events in a constantly shrinking reserve of time. In the early 1960’s Doctors started referring to the hurry sick person using a more neutral term – Type A – allowing the diagnosis of a sickness to become a compliment.

Henderson concludes saying; “All of this leads us to the foundational motives that impel our decisions and actions and make it so easy for us to succumb to our culture’s pressure to chase busyness. It all comes down to identity and five questions regarding our identity and significance”. 1) Who am I? 2) What is the reason for my being? 3) Is what I do important? 4) Am I worthwhile? 5) Am I loved?

In Luke 10 we find a story of Jesus stopping by the home of Martha. The story tells us Martha also had a sister named Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus listening to what He said. Martha however was “distracted” by all the preparations that had to be made. At one point she interrupted Jesus saying “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Expecting her sister to be scolded, I’m sure Martha was surprised as Jesus responded saying “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her”.

There are many activities and things which distract us from what is truly important in our lives. Sometimes we even find ourselves caught on the treadmill of busyness not knowing how to slow down. Getting off the treadmill isn’t as hard as you think. Sometimes it’s as simple as stepping back, taking a breath and unplugging from all your devices which drive your calendar at a hundred miles an hour. The phrase my Dad used to say really is true – “What doesn’t get done today, will always be there to be done tomorrow”.

Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

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