Full, Not Busy

It turns out that December is a busy time for both pastors and professors. Pastors plan Advent services—often Sundays and Wednesdays—and, when Christmas Eve comes, the sermons pile up further.

Professors have the end-of-semester duties of grading both final exams and final papers, plus there are more end-of-year deadlines than I care to count.

When meeting colleagues in December it’s easy to fall into the trap of arguing, “my busy is busier than yours.” I played this game for a while, winning some, losing others, until, that is, I came to see it as deeply flawed and unhelpful.

My life is not “busy;” my life is “full.” To call it busy denigrates my work, in some way, giving it a hue of checkboxes and must-dos while it’s actually wonderful work, good work. Sure, my duties are more than a handful, but “busy” feels too flippant. Busy cheapens.

My life, my work, is full, like after a delicious meal. Full as in a latte topped off with artfully poured foam. Full, like a font, overflowing.

Recently I heard part of the Radio Lab show, Unlocking The Secrets of Time. The segment pointed out that early in the 19th century, we had clocks, but they were not synchronized. Time was much more relative—noon at the bank would occur at a different time than noon at the pub. The reporters said, “There were as many times as there were clocks in the town.” Until, that is, the railroad came through and all the clocks that had kept their own time became synchronized to railroad time.

Today, time is synchronized to the nanosecond. Plus, my computer’s email is synchronized with my phone and my iPad. My calendar automatically sends me alerts on multiple devices. I even have a synchronized note-taking program to organize all my to-do lists!

And yet, I decide—I think it is a decision, one that I realize I’m privileged be able to make—I decide that I’m not busy, I’m just living a full life. Full, not busy.

image by Jason Antony


  1. Charlie Ruud says:

    Helpful, insightful, and fruitful distinction. My life is quite full. Need to loosen the belt a bit, in fact.


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