This content was published first in The Sunday Letters Journal: https://sundayletters.larrygmaguire.com/p/like-a-church by Larry G. Maguire on Fri, 21 Apr 2023 11:43:17 GMT
The time I spend in the morning in the kitchen, house empty except for me and the hum of the fridge in the background, is priceless. I fail to take it as my own too often, though, and I fall foul of busyness. Juggling one thousand things in the misled belief that I am getting somewhere, achieving something, but achieving little except the fuelling of a frayed, irritated and overwhelmed mind.
Looking at the world around us leads us to believe that being busy and occupied has merit and is the right way to live if we want to be wealthy and successful or even survive. It offers a very persuasive argument, but the reality is that this way of living breeds anxiety. It’s a treadmill, a rat wheel. Despite our efforts, we stay where we are, and on reflection, we realise our life has become one wasted, anxious existence. We didn’t do that thing we wanted, we needed to work and earn a living, to validate our existence. It’s a nonsense, and at some level, we understand this. It’s why for me, the solitude and quiet of the kitchen in the morning are so vital. It’s like a church.
I think we reach a point in our working lives where the idea of value in busy tends to run out of road. It becomes glaringly apparent that there not only has to be a better way to live and work, but there is one—somewhere, even though we might not know where or what that is. We sense we have no option but to ignore other people’s agendas. It is, in a way, entirely selfish. Call it healthy narcissism if you like. Typically, narcissism is associated with seeking attention for personal gratification and is considered either vulnerable or grandiose in its orientation. But that’s not what I mean here. Instead, it is tuning out from the noise and need for verification from others and tuning into something more subtle and nuanced. I think that great and valuable work exists in the processing of this information.
I believe there is a time or space for action, and we have the capacity to know when the time is right to go and not to go. So I’m not against getting busy per se, but we need to find the right mix. We need to call it for ourselves—to command our own work. Working to the agenda of others means handing them the say-so. They get to tell us when to start and when to stop. One o’clock rolls around, and it’s ok to have lunch. Five o’clock and quitting time—or not. School teaches us this. It is a conveyor belt, an assembly line for industry. It is the breeder of anxiety in people. It teaches us to fulfil the needs and demands of the Other, to pursue the future and ignore the present.
I’m still figuring it out…hopefully, you are too. Stay tuned.
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