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Ask pretty much anyone how they're doing these days, you're likely to hear the word "busy." It's become a badge of honour, an excuse for not getting back to someone or a deer-in-headlights realization that the amount of expectation does not match the amount of time generally considered available for accomplishment.
My day today was busy, but no more so than any other day in that if I have a moment, I'm generally filling it up with a productive activity. I try to do nothing that is of no use - sleep is regenerative, play is to refresh the body/mind or absorb new ideas and try out new conceptual combinations. I'm always suspicious of the people who, when asked what they're thinking will say "nothing" because to me, non-thinking is about as feasible as non-breathing. Multi-tasking is my normative state.
I'm hardly alone in this. People walking down the street are texting or talking on the phone, or both, making deals or making plans at the same time as walking the dog and getting their daily dose of cardio. I won't soon forget the young woman who went in search of a power source during the recent Toronto blackout in search of a power source, because she needed to plug in her phone - the concept of just being and not doing for a spell simply wasn't on her plate as an option.
We are an agitated people, reinforced by a society that wants us to be agitated. If we're not working (to fuel the economy) we should be spending (to fuel the economy) - plunking down coin on goods or services, supporting our community, buying local, being good Samaritans or good citizens. If we're not doing those things, or even while we're doing those things, we're on social media - tweeting while we write, blogging (or thinking about blogging) simultaneously with doing something else, composing the next instagram masterpiece as part of our daily ablutions.
There's a sidebar to this. Since we're all engaged, all the time, we don't want to be missing out on something, particularly something that feels like we're being excluded from. We equally have a hard time doing things that don't seem to have personal meaning (despite what the Andrew Keene's of the world tell us, this is nothing new - it just happens that concepts like King and Country have been diluted of their mass appeal through things like the Senate Scandal). If political debate seems too much like inside baseball and we don't have the time to learn the signals, we're not interested. That protest over there is much more interesting and gives a better chance to express oneself more personally. The cause might be our own, or we might make it our own, but it's better than the alternative of waiting around while things get done to, not with us.
Idle no more, indeed.