When the goal is to seize the day—Carpe diem— then being busy is the natural state. To do everything we wish to do in a lifetime requires our full attention. But the thing about attention is it is quickly stolen away by all of life’s distractions. Focus is thus essential to prioritizing the most important things. We know when we’re being pulled away from the meaningful and important, and when we’re deeply immersed in it. What we lean into makes all the difference in how we feel about those grains of sand moving through the hourglass.
There’s no doubt that one kind of “being busy” can be viewed as a distraction from other things we ought to be tackling. But there’s also a kind of “being busy” that is living an active, meaningful life. One key indicator is the phrase itself: When we say we’re very busy, it’s usually the distracted kind of busy. When we’re deeply engaged in meaningful activity, we don’t think of ourselves as being busy so much as making the most of our time.
Taking stock of the year as we close in on the halfway point, we might be amazed by all we’ve done with the time. I hope so, for isn’t that the point? To augment our days with joyful activity at the expense of all of the trivial pursuits that the universe throws at us has always been our underlying mission.
It’s one thing to be aware, it’s another to be absorbed by the trivial. How many grains of sand would we trade for things that don’t matter in the end? We must be frugal, even as we must be active. Our lives depend on it.