It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? ~Henry David Thoreau
I watch the ants as they speed around a small area of my garden. I’m amazed at how quickly they dart about. I watch as they push through the clay and move it around effortlessly. Creating what? I am not sure. But they sure seem to know what they’re doing.
I often feel like these ants–hurrying, scurrying, shuffling about. Moving this, pushing that. I find myself caught up in a never-ending cycle of busyness. Unlike the ants, I have no idea what I’m doing. It is confusing and exhausting! Thankfully, I’ve learned how to slow myself down and regain a sense of calm equilibrium. I’ve been practicing mindfulness, meditation, and pranayama (breathwork) for many years. They work together to help me cultivate a peaceful attitude, in all but the most chaotic of times.
The paradox is this: the more calm I am, the more focused I am and this leads to greater productivity. The more busy I am, the more scattered and unfocused I am. This leads to stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, and ultimately stagnation. When I get too busy, I get much less done.
In one of my favorite essays on mindfulness Omid Safi writes that by staying busy we lose out on intimacy and love–the very things we all crave. Our society’s addiction to busyness is destroying our connection to each other. We also have the power to change that through mindfulness and being truly present. Perhaps now would be a good time. Unless, of course, you enjoy speeding around mindlessly and missing out on your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Video of the busy ants in my garden, June 2017. How things start to look when I get too busy: blurry, trippy, unfocused. Photo taken 2016.
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