Remember the story about Joshua Bell in the Washington DC subway station?
He’s one of the world’s most talented violinists. On January 12th 2007, his face partly concealed with a baseball cap, he pretended to be a busker. For forty-five minutes he played an incredibly difficult classical masterpiece (on a $3,000,000 violin) to 1000 passers-by. Only 17 stopped to give him money. He made $32.17.
Why didn’t more people stop and watch?
There could be many reasons but one possibility is that they were simply too busy. Rushing to work, to a meeting, scared that they might miss the train.
In his excellent post, Marc Chernoff suggests that busyness is like an illness. It leaves no time for presence and awareness. What’s more, people tend to wear their busyness almost like a badge of honour.
“I’m a hard-worker!” “I’m completely inundated.” “I’m totally committed to my job.” Have you ever had thoughts like these? The sad truth is that unrelenting busyness robs life of much of its joy and colour. Because society almost idolises excessive work, we end up striving to do more, more, more. And what really ends up happening is that we achieve exactly the same amount, and sometimes even less.
But what’s at the root of it all? One possible answer is that we’re too concerned about how we match up to other people. We want to be “better”. And the only way we think we can achieve this is through doing more. In the process, we lose touch with the peace of the present moment. We lose touch with who we really are.
Try cutting out some of the unbridled, unnecessary busyness in your own life. Don’t book your schedule to breaking-point and take some time to enjoy what’s right in front of you.
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