A young Facebook friend asked me recently, “How u make yourself very busy...??do not u feel like tired or do not u want rest.???"
It is a good question which deserves a full answer.
The easy part of the answer is to remind him that Facebook exaggerates perception. After all, we only post what we want others to see and what we think might be fun. Of course I rest but I don’t always share. Who wants to read a Facebook post that says, “I am taking a nap.”
Now for the more thoughtful part of the answer.
The bottom line might have something to do with death which will ultimately conquer, but while I am physically able, I nurture growth. When we stop growing, we begin to die. Ultimately death will come, regardless of what I do but I have no desire to sit and wait for the grim reaper to come. As I made clear in my book, 365 Gifts, every day is a gift. I will not refuse this gift. In fact, the best way of honoring it is to accept it fully.
I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying. ~ Andy, Shawshank Redemption
However, my answer is not so much about death as it is about the way I choose to live and what drives me—curiosity, connecting, learning and creating. My life is not about being busy but about being immersed in the business of living. All of these things are woven into the tapestry of my life which is who I am.
Curiosity is a constant companion that is always whispering in my ear, “What if?” In other words, what are the possibilities that lie ahead? Even if I wanted (and I do not), I cannot stop this voice in my head.
Connecting is part of what defines me. In my Defining Ourselves words and photo project, I defined myself, “I am a child of the universe who lives a rich life of creativity, connections and possibilities.”
Learning is part of my fabric. It is impossible not to learn when I delve into all the whatifs and the problem solving they invoke. When I was nine, I pulled an old picture frame from a neighbor’s garbage can and asked what if I paint it gold? Will this frame be transformed? When I was sixty, I asked, what if I pursue a doctorate. This experience transformed me. Learning prods my questions, answers and experiences.
To an artist, creating is like breathing. It’s impossible for me not to create. Creating is the essence of life and it appears in many forms. During those times when I appear to be busy, I may be creating connections and new experiences. However, during times I am quiet, appearing to vegetate, I may also be creating new connections of spirit and ideas.
So, back to the original question. Acting on curiosity, seeking connections, exploring new ideas and creating art lead to a multi-layered life which may seem to be “busy,” but I call it “living” fully. To me, “busy” has a connotation of merely filling time which is a shallow way to experience one’s life. I do not fill time but I embrace it so I can receive the gifts it brings. As I approach my 72nd birthday in four days, I am aware that my aging body will eventually change how I do some things and the pace at which I do them. My mother was just six years older than I am now when she died. It reminds me that I have a lot of answers yet to explore, more experiences to discover, new poems to write and more images to create.
I have a lot of living to do.